Bear Lake is one of my favorite places in the whole world. It’s synonymous with beauty and family and great memories – what could be better than that?
Over the next 10 years, the A-frame became more comfortable – we finished the bathroom and got what seemed like the coolest spiral staircase to take us upstairs a little more safely (and cause plenty of casualties when its sharp corners met people’s heads – it wasn’t really positioned in the safest place…).
|The dangerously-placed spiral staircase|
My dad helped each of us build our own beds that folded out of the wall upstairs. All 6 kids slept on the fold-out beds in one room while my parents slept in the other room. 8 people, 2 bedrooms, one bathroom – somehow it worked fine.
Each night, my dad told us wonderful made-up stories as we lay in our beds (often sweating up a storm – those July and August nights were HOT). Each morning, my mom had us all practicing violin, doing music theory flashcards and reading (often snuggled in blankets – those June mornings were COLD). We spent our days playing at the beach, catching chipmunks, putting on various little plays, and earning nickles by carrying up big rocks from the beach so we could have some semblance of landscaping.
Once a week, we went to my grandma’s house (about ½ hour away) and took care of the big garden there. We each had a crop to plant, weed and harvest. I always had the peas. Shawni had the beans. Josh did potatoes. Saydi did carrots. My grandma made sure we knew exactly how to do our jobs and we’d work SO hard in that garden and then enjoy the great fresh produce for the second half of the summer.
Over time, we traded out the old stinky range and falling-apart cabinets for newer, nicer stuff, added a second bathroom, and put on an addition so there was a room for the girls there and the boys kept sleeping in the fold-out bunks upstairs.
|The cabin as it is today – with the addition|
The crowning glory (for my dad) was when he was able to buy the lot next door and somehow cram a tennis court on it. There we all took tennis lessons from my dad, played basketball there and did lots of sleep-outs under the stars.
Fast forward to today: Lots of things are the same – evening storytimes, morning reading, lots of unstructured time for imagination and fun, lots of love and learning. But everything’s bigger. Now we’ve got 29 kids (ages 2 months to 21 years old) and 19 adults (my siblings, their spouses and my parents) enjoying the old A-frame plus a lovely new 6-bedroom house nearby and my parents have built a writing-get-away up on the hill overlooking the lake where they stay most of the time.
Ever since I started having kids, my sisters and I plus some of our sisters-in-law have spent most of July here with our kids while our husbands come in and out based on their work schedules. We have 4 days during July that are protected official Eyre Reunion days and we’ve been lucky enough to have pretty much every family member make it pretty much every year for at least those 4 days while there are a whole lot of people here for a week or two before the reunion and/or a week or two after.
There’s nothing like seeing our kids playing together, seeing my parents teach our kids some of the cherished things they taught us, watching different combinations of adults and children play and chat on the beach, learn to water ski, build sand castles, play tennis, cook and clean up together, and play games and laugh late into the night.
My mom does “Grammie Camp” each year with kids five and up where she teaches them about their ancestors, does some art with them (she’s a big art lover) and teaches them to work (they do weeding projects and that sort of thing – bringing back to the days when we used to work hard in Grandma’s garden).
My dad does “Grandfather’s Secrets” with the kids where they memorize great quotes and learn principles of living well in fun ways.
|Here’s my dad sharing some of his “secrets” – the kids can’t get enough of him|
|Here’s my mom with the Grammie Camp kids|
We all help parent each others kids and love cooking together and talking about all sorts of stuff late into the night. There are certainly issues around who’s doing more than their fair share of grocery shopping or clean up and the kids have their little spats (although it’s pretty amazing how well everyone does get along). Sometimes in the midst of all the mess, noise and heat, tensions start to run high.
But life at the lake is good. Very very good. And we all feel so amazingly blessed to have this place full of memories and love and fun that we can come to every year and now share with our children.
Here’s the whole family at last year’s reunion:
** For specific information on how we do our reunions, check out this post: 3 Keys to a Great Family Reunion
QUESTION: What places mean a lot to you? Do your children get a chance to experience some of the places and activities you loved as a child?
CHALLENGE: What could you do to create some place-based bonding experiences for your family?