There are at least a dozen fantastic photographers and so much beauty in July at Bear Lake that we are flooded with good images capturing the magic up there. Here are some, a small sampling, a quick recap of lots of magical moments. I just feel like the whole month is filled with crystally moments. You know the ones, soft perfect light, time slowing down, people laughing and loving each other. Of course the pictures don’t capture all the chaos, the cranky kids after too much sun and play, the funny different family dynamics. But my memory doesn’t really remember those parts too much either. Bear Lake really is my reprieve. A breath of fresh, calm, slow air after a crazy year. I thank my lucky stars that I get to be part of something like this. That my kids get to soak in that free unstructured air, connect with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents. That I get so much time with siblings and in-laws. It is really magical. One of the biggest blessings in my life. Here they are, ready to embark on our great summer adventure. Peter talked about riding an airplane for days and days and could hardly stand the excitement looking at the airplanes while waiting to board, taxing forever while getting ready for take off. So, I was super surprised when he was utterly terrified as we finally lifted off into the air. He got all teary eyed and wouldn’t let go of my hand. Kept looking down and saying, “home!” I ended up having to lower the window shade. He didn’t want to look out. I think he is finally big enough to understand that we were up super high, that gravity is real. But not old enough to understand that we were safe, that we were going to touch down again. Once we got to our lay over and landed he clapped and clapped. He was psyched about the second leg, I think he knew then that he wouldn’t be lost up in the sky forever. Our first weekend we got to spend with Jeff’s sister and her family up at the lake. I love these kids. They are so smart and friendly and good to my kids. They are fun to talk to, polite, willing to try new things. And their parents are some of my favorite people ever. It’s nice to really like your in-laws. We made drippy sand castle worlds (under the direction of Papa Rob), had lots of secret meetings, sang old Shumway songs, had a little cousin testimony meeting, ate and played, swam and talked. Perfect way to kick off Bear Lake. Peter really does love these boy cousins, it was just Sunday nap time. Then this whole crew started to arrive. And the chaos began!Three of my four kids got to go to Grammie Camp with their groups this year. My mom taught them about great music and art and about the joy of working hard and the legacy of their ancestors. I love it so much that she does this. They each look forward to it with so much anticipation. My dad had a few surprises for us up there this year. The “Grandchildren’s Green” was one of them. A long stretching field below the house. The kids spent so many evenings running, cart wheeling, kicking balls along side their long shadows. Noah and Krisit were in charge of the reunion this year and boy did they really kick it up a notch! One of my favorite activities they did was a teamed relay. Everyone got to run little legs (even Peter….wish I had a picture of that adorable moment.) We ran all the way to the bear cave (11 miles I think) and had raspberry shakes. They also organized a fantastic game of minute to win it. Here we are throwing cheese puffs into shaving cream helmets to see how many we could get to stick. And they brought back fear factor from last year. Why those kids want to participate in that game is beyond me, just looking at the food they have to eat makes me queasy. We set off these lanterns on the beach one night. Because of the wind it took a lot of team effort to get those things into the sky. But once they took flight they took your breath away. The other big surprise my dad has was a sail boat. He took us all out for little sails whenever any kind of wind came up. Peter could not be on that boat without being the driver. Grandfather was so good to let him always sit at the wheel. Speaking of Peter, this was his happiest year yet at the lake. He is finally at the age where he really plays with his cousins. He and Po Po were like two peas in a pod. And he thought that Cubby was the coolest thing since sliced bread. He spent a lot of time just in his undies….I’m sure his cousins were super impressed. He discovered his shadow. I think all of my kids have discovered their shadows on this same path, walking up from the lake at dinner time. Shining lake behind us, long shadows in front. He also discovered a love of water sports….boats, skies, jet skies, floaties. You name it, he was in love. And, he got his first real haircut. I didn’t do a perfect job, but, thanks to my sisters there coaching me as I cut it turned out okWe ate lots of really great food. This is now one of my very favorite summer salads. The one that was the top post on my blog for months is a another winner. I’ll post the recipe for this one sometime soon…..or maybe just in time for next summer. Eva and her family joined us for a few days of Charlie has been waiting all year long to make his treasure chest with Grandfather. This is something my dad does with each group at a certain age. Hazel got to participate in the first installment of Grandfather’s secrets….which she was pretty happy about too. Here is Charlie with his group. I just love looking at these pictures and imagining them all as teenagers. My dad has this vision that these cousins will be so close from all these summers that they will support each other in ways we can not know as they navigate their teenage world. I really think that’s going to happen.
Jeff did a lot of tinkering (and actually fixing up) his beloved Land Cruiser. He is so much happier at Bear Lake now that he has this baby. He and Jonah pretty much play grease monkeys the whole time they are there together. This (under this hood) is Jeff’s happy place. And this is mine. Behind the boat. On the glass. I feel young and alive out there. One day we were even able to sneak away from all those boat hungry teens and pre teens and all those parent hungry babies and toddlers for a sibling only water-ski run. It felt just like old times (only our boat is older, the stereo no longer works and our bodies are a little older). We cheered each other on, gave pointers and cutting critiques and felt good and young again. Boy, we’ve spent a lot of time on that lake in a boat together over the years. Hazel learned a lot about herself this year. She really figured out how to navigate the whole big chaos cousin dynamics at the lake. She’s getting older and wiser. We snuck away once for a little family time: a trip to the Bear Cave for shakes and fries and a little photo op. Emmeline was also in heaven at the lake. She is so good at rolling with the punches. So happy playing for literally hours with her cousins. She’s a spunky one that girl. Totally confident in her own skin. Totally sure that the world loves her. But boy can she still yell like a maniac when she’s upset. Towards the end of our time up there Charlie finally got his cast off. Our dear Dr. Wolf cut it off for him. He felt a little funny maneuvering his arm for 24 hours, but after that he was as good as new. I tried my darndest to keep my kids reading and doing some work to mix in with all that play, but boy is that a challenge. I love it though that we have our own little space to steal away to. I always feel the need up there to reclaim my family a little bit. There are days that I don’t really get to see my kids for hours on end. Jeff was with us for a full two weeks this year. Which was heavenly (even if he did spend most of his time with is Bear Lake girlfriend – the Land Cruiser).We are already counting down the days until next year. Every year just gets better and better.