Sisters and kids at our pool - had a "pre-party" together here complete with a play at the Shakespeare Festival and Grammie Camp for the 6 and up crowd at Kolob before heading up to Bear Lake
We're back from almost a month of travel and family and fun. It's good to be home! There's nothing like a long trip and being surrounded by scores of people to make you appreciate your own home and the comparative quiet and simplicity of just your own family. The kids and I were really missing Jared and missing our house by the very end there. It was a long but thankfully rather uneventful drive home - drove to Salt Lake day before yesterday (got to see my good friend Neylan and her little girls and had a crazy 7-kids-under-7 experience at the Church History Museum and the Lion House for lunch - but good to catch up a bit between kid issues), then on to St George (through SIX major thunderstorms and a fair amount of slow-down due to road construction) yesterday. The kids were remarkably good on the drive and I got home to a nice clean house thanks to Jared hiring a cleaning lady for a birthday present for me while we were gone. Yeah! Plus he got the twins' new bunk beds set up and got those crappy old cribs out of here and fixed the gaping hole in the wall of the twins' room (from all their whacking their cribs into the wall of their room as they rocked the cribs wildly back and forth). What a guy! The twins slept well in their new beds last night and then again for naps today. I'm so glad to be done with cribs once and for all and so grateful Ollie and Si were happy with their new beds - worried they'd be freaked out about the idea.
We are blessed to be connected to some of the most beautiful places and most wonderful people on earth. Bear Lake seemed especially lovely this year - we had some wild thunderstorms which brought out colors and smells. I can't get over how many colors the waters of Bear Lake can be - navy, aqua, saphire, brilliant sparkly light blue, rich blue-gray... and the sky - soooo many colors. The sage brush smelled heavenly in the rain and the colors on the hills changed so beautifully with different light and different weather. And Ashton, ID - don't even get me started. Those green green fields of peas and potatoes mixed with yellowed alfalfa with the Tetons in the distance. The light at both places seems so especially pure and the sunsets and magnificent.
Eli and Charity did a great job with the Eyre reunion this year - highlights from the reunion and our time hanging out at the Bear Lake afterwards for an extended sister and cousin time:
(Shawni has all the best photos of this stuff so this section will be a bit weak on photos)
- BONFIRE: wonderful bonfire night as everyone "lit the Eyre within" by passing around fire from sparkler to sparkler, each sharing the best and most surprising things in their lives from this past year while their sparkler burned
- FAMILY FAVORITES CD: great CD (made by Eli) with everyone's favorite songs of the year - we've listened to this mix non-stop on all our long drives!
- SAND AND WATER: neverending fun in the sand and shallow water for Liza and the twins along with best buddy cousins Hazel, Claire, McKay and Charlie
- FOOD: amazing meals - everyone going all out when it was their turn to cook- my clothes are feeling tight!
- EYREALM FOUNDATION: meaningful Eyrealm meeting - good ideas from all around, good stuff to fund this year
- TENNIS: fun for Jared and I to play doubles with Mom and Dad - we got them scared for a little bit there!
- CHATS: great to snatch some chat time with different siblings, talking about decisions and ideas and kids...
- DEVOTIONALS: nice morning devotionals talking about different gospel topics - wish we could do this all the time - so nice to discuss the gospel with family members (other than my kids!)
- MEMORIES: fun memory game spearheaded by Dad - what a lot of amazing memories we have together - got to get a complied list of all those. Eli had made up a CD of songs back through the years that remind us of a lot of the memories we discuss and he gave that to us at the end - perfect way to close a great evening.
- GRANDMA GREAT: 85th birthday party for Grandma in Logan - fun to see extended family and celebrate this great lady - what a woman! Beautiful drive through Logan Canyon
- WATERSKIING: Ashton learned to water ski and did several loops, getting up all by himself with no one holding him in the water several times. He also learned to knee board and loved it. Isaac put away his fear of the Big Mabel (after some scary stuff last year) and felt pretty triumphant riding that thing around the lake and Ashton did some crazy flips off of it which he thought were super fun. Liza amazingly felt like trying to waterski - she didn't get up but I was so proud of her for trying! She's like a different kid this year - last year she wouldn't even go in the pool without clinging to me for dear life the whole time and now she's swimming like crazy, waterskiing, riding the waverunners, everything.
- MESA FALLS HIKE: beautiful wildflowers and stunning vistas as we hiked (for entirely too long on a hot day according to the kids) at Mesa Falls on Isaac's birthday. I ended up carrying a sleepy and then sleeping Oliver most of the way but despite the heft and sweatiness, it was fun to snuggle this sweet little boy of mine so much more than he usually allows.
- COUSINS and IKE'S BIRTHDAY: fun to be with so many Loosli cousins for Isaac's 6th birthday - he loved jumping on the tramp, going on four-wheeler rides, eating a 1lb Big Juds burger for lunch (with help from Jared and Ashton), getting lots of Transformers for birthday presents, eating his favorite dinner (Cafe Rio style burritos/taco salads with lots of guacamole), picking peas, eating chocolate cake... what a boy this Isaac is!
- ANNIVERSARY PARTY: so fun to see Portia and Lynn having so much fun with all their old friends and so many family members at their party. the decor, food, everything was just lovely and everyone seemed to have a great time. I was the photographer and tried to capture a lot of it - so many happy people with so many memories together. What great people Portia and Lynn are! It was so clear to see that so many people are so grateful for their friendship, help, example...
- FARM ADVENTURES: there are so many fun things to do at the farm. The twins LOVED the huge tire swing, seeing all the cows and horses, riding on a tractor, and getting plenty of love and attention from their beloved grandparents, aunts and uncles and so many older cousins
Twins on the tire swing
- great to play games, learn to bowl and play tennis on the Wii, go on some beautiful walks, read, have some great conversations and just hang out with everyone and see the kids having so much fun together.
- GRANDFATHER: Ashton and Isaac had a great time making their "treasure chests" with Grandfather and Ashton, Max and Elle submitted proposals for teh $500 each that Grandfather offered to give them for things they'd like to do to broaden and contribute (educate themselves and give to those in need). Their proposals were really cute and their ideas ranged from buying a pet for a learning experience (nixed by parents) to getting a Wii with educational games (also nixed) to going to Boston to visit museums and colleges and historic sites (Ashton and I are definitely doing this) to giving to "kids in Darfur who have totally no food and their own government is trying to kill them" (according to Ashton)...
- FRIENDS AND EXTENDED FAMILY: catching up with my mission friend Deborah (who runs the organization One Heart Bulgaria that I help with) and her family who came up to the lake for a day, hanging out with Chris and Hedy and Ashley and Ben, having our California friends the Harringtons at the lake overnight - so great to reconnect with good people we don't see much. Great time with Aunt Lena and a lot of her kids and grandkids as well as their fun waverunners and nice boat - always so fun to be with those guys.
- LATE NIGHT FUN: playing speed scrabble, hot tubbing under the bright full moon and talking about people we love, making cookies - lots of variations on the good old standard oatmeal chocolate chip
- KIDS, KIDS, KIDS: With Shawni, Saydi and Kristi, trying valiently to provide 13 very young and busy kids with some structure and learning activities to go along with all the sand and water and unstructured play; trying to appreciate the fun we were all having and grab cherished moments to talk in the midst of so much noise and chaos
- BLOOMINGTON LAKE: Enjoying an amazing Swiss-Alps type experience at Bloomington Lake during a flash thunderstorm - seeing the colors pop out with all the rain and marveling at all the beauty that is so different from the East Side of Bear Lake.
- READING: The Good Earth - haven't read that in ages and it's soooo good, Angels and Demons - not the best writing but loved reliving my Art History days and trips to Rome through the book plus interesting thoughts on religion vs science. I loved having some time to read and being away from the computer and the phone and the house that can eat up so much of my time.
- MY BIRTHDAY: my favorite cookies and yummy omlette eggs for breakfast, great banner and notes from the kids, raspberry picking (with a few kids sick and throwing up on the way and a lot of confusion trying to find the place!), a visit to Minnetonka Cave with the older kids, a perfect gorgeous evening on the lake watching Eli and Saydi show their stuff waterskiing - just missed Jared! Everyone treated me so well and it was a great birthday.