a talent show, tennis, boating, jumping, bird watching, and eating roasted squid

the last full day of the reunion included a morning talent show featuring pretty awesome dance routines, some ukulele playing, a couple gymnastics moves and also mckay showcasing how he can smile and drink out of a straw at the very same time! day3these older grandkids love driving lessons from their uncles. it is fun to have nieces and nephews to remind me of junior high and high school days. yes, i have a nephew who is fifteen and six-three.IMG_0802every year we have a doubles tennis tournament. since shawni’s husband had to leave on sunday, i got to be her doubles partner. we totally lost in the first round, but then we got to play another match with her teenage kids. elle and i smoked max and shawni. it was maybe the most fun tennis match i’ve ever played. 2012-07-16 Eyrealm reunion 54781hanging out with these people in the sun after lunch is the best.IMG_6808IMG_6840out on the boat in the middle of the lake on a hot afternoon is really really my happy place. the teal water, the bouncy clouds, the cheers and usually holding a baby or two on my lap…and there is nothing like the sensation of waterskiing – especially the first ski of the year. these pictures don’t do my brothers’ mad skiing skills justice…2012-07-16 waterskiing 550182012-07-16 waterskiing 55024after lunch, the grandkids participated in the first-ever eyrealm fear factor competition. it. was. stinking. awesome. my brother eli was in charge and started out the event with a little dance party to get everyone excited…IMG_6873but the kids’ faces soon turned a little worried as eli explained the game: several rounds of eating pretty gross stuff, and the last kid standing wins.IMG_6878the first round was a lemon:day3-001round two was a cup of vegetable juice, which yielded the first tears:day3-007quite a few of the kids made it to round three: seaweed. the twins struggled with that one:day3-002(aren’t those faces priceless??) round four was dried squid:IMG_0810camden and his loathing for hard boiled eggs struggled a little with round 5: quail eggs:day3-003the adults and the kids that didn’t advance to the next round loooooved watching the action:2012-07-16 Eyrealm reunion 54831IMG_0873the idea of eating eyeballs got some kids a little miffed in round 6: anchovies:day3-004and the final round was a race to chew and swallow two roasted squid. eliza held her own as the only girl in the top five finals and mckay, unfortunately, had to use the barf bucket:day3-005the crowd was going wild as the final five tried to get those nasty things down as fast as possible:2012-07-16 fear factor 55055max couldn’t get that chewy slimy thing down quite fast enough, and isaac became fear factor champion!
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another storm rolled in at the end of the day and we watched it move across the sky and illuminate the world with wondrous light.IMG_0965IMG_7091IMG_0997IMG_0936day3-006IMG_1127we had to do some jumping pictures…IMG_7145IMG_7150IMG_7196after dinner, we went bird watching! there is a bird refuge just north of bear lake that we’ve often passed but never really explored. the gate was closed and padlocked, but that didn’t deter us…IMG_72432012-07-16 bird watching 54943IMG_7259we did see some amazing birds – including two with fish in their mouths! 2012-07-16 Eli's Bird Watching 551462012-07-16 bird watching 54866IMG_7268mckay worked all day to make these special bird watching goggles –
complete with a feather for camouflage!IMG_7285IMG_1200this night was so thick and dewy and perfect. the air was ethereal and kind.
the drive back was sublime, and the sun finally set just as we got home. IMG_12492012-07-16 bird watching 549902012-07-16 bird watching 54996

i had to go back to california on tuesday and then back to work on wednesday. it was so hard to leave when most everyone else was staying for a few more days. after this perfect, glowing bird watching night, i had a hard last day at the lake realizing everything i had to go back to and feeling alone and anxious. i’m grateful for memories of glorious bear lake sunsets and for the swellings of hope that come from recalling the simple joys of familial love – which continuously give me real power to keep striving and working to live big and live well.


  1. Nice photos Char! I haven't seen those fear factor ones. You rock the house.

  2. your family is seriously, seriously beautiful.

  3. Extraordinary! How exciting to see these pictures! Did you take these or did you get them from Shawni? SO fun to see all the closeups of the kids' faces and the glowing light at sunset. Fun, fun, Fun!

  4. Forgot to say that this made me LOL and CRY!

  5. Laughed OUT LOUD at the Fear Factor pics! OH MY GOODNESS, I would have been out in the first round! Awesome pics as usual and your sweet personality throughout!

  6. Your family is beautiful and it looks SO fun to be a part of! I loved looking at the huge family picture you guys take. I have 6 siblings so I'm looking forward to huge family reunions like this one day when we all have our own families! Looks like an amazing trip though, the Fear Factor pictures are priceless.

    perfectly priya