Saturday, August 08, 2009
Bear Lake and Beyond
We're home! Home is a good place. The kids were so excited to sleep in their own comfy beds after a solid month of floor-sleeping and having our own bathrooms feels like quite a luxury. After being with an average of 18 kids and about as many adults pretty much every day throughout July, our "little" family of 7 seems so manageable and quiet. Even though we got home last Sunday, we've had guests and events like crazy until yesterday when we got a chance to be all on our own for the day. It felt good. But we do miss all those wonderful friends and relatives!
Our time at Bear Lake this year was jam-packed with people and events and good talks and beautiful scenery and fun. My only complaint would be that somehow, in the flurry of guests and activities (including trips to Logan, to SLC, to Wyoming to do a pioneer trek, etc.), it felt like there was too little time this year to really enjoy stretches of days on the beach with kids happily paying while I talk with the women I know and love best about all sorts of meaningful stuff. There really ended up being zero days when it was just me and my sisters and sisters-in-law with our kids at the Lake - so my plans for doing podcasts with them for Power of Moms and getting their opinions on a variety of subjects never quite materialized. But there were lots of great talks and late night games and good laughs and I cherished all the time I did get with so many combinations of family members and friends.
Here are some snapshots (many courtesy of Shawni and Saydi who are amazing photographers) and highlights of the Bear Lake phase of our summer - Bear Lake was our base but we went all over the place from there (For the Ashton, ID stuff at the beginning of the month, click here):
GREAT PEOPLE - in droves: We had friends and friends of friends and more relatives showing up daily at the Lake - great to catch up with some of my dad's brothers' kids and families, most of the extended Clayton family, various close family friends who feel like family (Amy, Maureen, Laurel, Jen Jacob...), Josh's girlfriend and her family. For the first time in many years, we were able to attend the Jacobson and Clark reunions since they were both at Bear Lake - we had day-long reunions with both sides of my mom's family - meeting and re-meeting wonderful 2nd and 3rd cousins, lots of laughs with my mom's sister's kids who we don't get to see enough.
EYRE COUSINS: Never a dull moment with 18 cousins to play with every day! The kids all got along so well and enjoyed each other so much. The big ones were so helpful with the little ones and everyone just seemed to genuinely LIKE each other so much. Certainly, there's a lot of noise and plenty of crying and issues to deal with when so many little kids are around - but generally, it was great to see such strong bonds developing between all these cute kids.
SAND AND WATER: The beach, the beach, the beach - the kids never grew tired of digging holes in the sand and playing in the warm shallow water and riding the "GT3" multi-person tube and riding in the boat and pretending to drive the tractor that launches the boat. Sand and water are a recipe for neverending fun for kids and for pleasant relaxing times for moms. The changing colors of the lake, the feel of sand underfoot, the sound of lapping water and children laughing - it doesn't get much better than that...
FOOD: Thanks in large part to my sister Saydi's fearless gourmet plans and everyone else's willingness to pitch in and make it happen, we had wonderful food every day at Bear Lake - from homemade pizzas to delicious falafel. Good stuff and good times preparing it together. Always an adventure preparing food for 30-50 people - especially when the nearest grocery store is not very near and you have to get creative with what you have!
BEAUTY: Amazing sunsets, beautiful green reeds against the blue of the lake, shimmering ripples in the late afternoon, ever-changing beauty. For some truly gorgeous photography of Bear Lake, check out my sister Saydi's blog entry here.
GRANDMA GREAT: Saydi and I took out kids to Logan to spend a night with Grandma Great - so wonderful to see the family history she's almost finished with, hear great stories, visit the old Joy School she ran for so many years and remember all that we've learned from this great family matriarch while the kids played with all the old wooden puzzles Grandma made for her own kids so long ago.
PIONEER TREK: Jared and I were asked to be a "Ma and Pa" for a fake family of 8 teenagers from our ward as part of our stake Pioneer Trek in the middle of the month (separate post on this - but here's one photo!)
GRAMMIE CAMP: Every year, all the kids over 5 get to participate in a wonderful overnight camp with my mom where they learn stories about their ancestors and go on great field trips. This year the group was big enough that it had to be broken into two groups - the 5-6 year olds and the 8 and ups. They had so much fun riding a crazy-seater bike they rented, getting special treats, going to a really fun melodrama at the Pickleville Playhouse and just soaking in some excellent time with my amazing mom.
GRANDFATHER: The kids can't get enough of this grandfather of theirs. They loved feeding the horses with him and participating in all their "group" activities (he has all the kids divided into groups by age and has special activities they get to do at each age). Ashton got to go with Max and Elle (Group 1) on the big motor home trip that Grandfather promised to all the grandkids when the oldest one in their group is 12 years old. They had crazy adventures in Jackson Hole and Yellowstone and came back loving their amazing grandparents more than ever. Isaac, Gracie and Ana (Group 2) received their "Broaden and Contribute" money from Grandfather this summer - a big chunk of money they get to use to broaden their minds and contribute to worthy causes. He had some great talks with them about all this. Eliza, Hazel, Cam and Claire (group 3) got to make their "treasure chests" this year and enjoyed hours of hammering and gluing and painting while they made a special place to keep their special things and learned from their Grandfather. What can I say - my parents are truly amazing!
CHARITY'S HOMECOMING: My youngest sister Charity got home from her mission to England on July 24th and it was so great to have EVERYONE in my family together for a whole day or so at Bear Lake and then a day in SLC for her outstanding homecoming talk in church and open house at my parents' house. She was an amazing missionary and the transition to "regular" life was a bit rough but we've all reveling in having our little sister/favorite aunt back! So many old friends and relatives came to the homecoming and it was a great reunion of both our full immediate family and many of the people who've always been part of our lives.
ISAAC's BIRTHDAY: Isaac had a great birthday with all his cousins (Ana, Cam and Elsie showed up from New Zealand just in time for cake!) and most of his aunts and uncles - we took him to the other side of the lake for burgers and raspberry shakes, played lots of games, he got cute homemade cards from many cousins, some fun little toys, his own scriptures and journal and was treated to all his favorite meals.
ISAAC'S BAPTISM: Isaac and his cousin Grace got baptized in Bear Lake the day after Charity got home. He was so excited to have all the Eyres and quite a few of the Looslis there for that special event. It was a truly beautiful day in every way. I'll write a whole post about it.
FUN IN SLC: We had a wonderful day attending the Oquirrah Mountain Temple open house with some of my family (beautiful, beautiful temple - one of my very favorites - so fun to share my love for the temple with the kids through this visit) and then I had my great kids all to myself all afternoon at the SLC children's museum and planetarium. It was one of those days where serendipity abounds and we so enjoyed being together - just the 6 of us. I really played with the kids at the museum and totally focused on them and we learned all about the constellations and listened to a wonderful guitarist while we enjoyed a great dinner on a beautiful evening. Every mom needs a day like this once in a while to thoroughly remind her how fun it is to be a mom.
MY BIRTHDAY: Jared and I did the 54 mile bike ride around Bear Lake again for my birthday and enjoyed serious beauty and serious exercise while Noah and Kristi were kind enough to watch the kids for us and show them a great time. Perfect day. Just to be clear, there are NOT 4 candles on my cake because I turned 40 - I'm way younger than that. Mom could only find 4 candles so there you have it.
BYU IDAHO EDUCATION WEEK: I spent a couple days in Rexburg attending Education Week wtih my friend April Perry who was presenting. The two of us came up with some exciting new ideas for more options for moms at Education week and it looks like the administration will be moving forward with our ideas and that she and I will likely be spending time at BYU I Education Week again next year. Jared and the kids had a wonderful time enjoying some smaller-group time with Jared's mom and LOVED visiting Bear World (see above).
If you're still reading, congratuations! I tried just offer a tiny snippet of the top things about our month of travel and adventures - but even just covering a smattering of what we had going on adds up to a long post!