26 July 2017

ten thoughts on a wednesday {bear lake edition}

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my family has been spending chunks of summertime at bear lake since my parents honeymooned there forty eight years ago. our experiences there have definitely evolved over time as the family has grown, but every one of my parents’ children, children-in-law, and grandchildren have gathered at this pretty mountain lake every single july (with just a very few exceptions some years – mostly due to church missions). over the last couple of decades, we’ve called the time when we are all together at bear lake our eyrealm reunion, which typically lasts four and a half days. throughout the years we’ve figured out different ways to make the logistics of this large gathering work. and we all really enjoy being together at bear lake – yes, even the in-laws :) of course some people like certain aspects of the lake and of our reunion more than others, but generally we all have a pretty awesome time.
i want to share a few of my favourite moments from the week i spent this month at bear lake in this post, and then will fill in some gaps of the reunion and other lake time in a following post. i’m happy to answer any questions about the eyres at bear lake in the comments of this post (readers have expressed interest in this topic in the past).

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one thing that i was especially super psyched about doing in bear lake this year was waterskiing! every since i was a little kid, i have been so exhilarated by gliding on top of that aqua water behind a speedboat. i was so sad to miss that experience last year, and because ian and i want to continue to grow our family and don’t know the timing of future pregnancies, who knows if i’ll miss that experience next year or in several summers to come.
so…i was pretty anxious to ski soon after we got to the lake and got in the boat at the first opportunity. since moses was ready for a nap by the time it was my turn to go behind the boat, i just took a really quick (like 30 second) ski as we headed back to shore. i was pretty proud that, after a year off and having a baby, i pulled right up and my muscles remembered it all. i felt sheer delight and thick exuberance in those thirty seconds – i was whooping and hollering with joy as i skied!
unfortunately, while we were in the states i developed a corneal ulcer (i.e. an ulcer on my eyeball!), and on the last day of the reunion i had to drive to the closest big town (logan, utah) to see an ophthalmologist. i had been using an antibiotic a doctor at an urgent care facility back in baltimore gave me, but my eye wasn’t healing as expected. the ophthalmologist gave me a stronger antibiotic – and told me to avoid getting lake water in my eye (i.e. no swimming or waterskiing). i was so sad because i hadn’t gotten in a real ski yet!
luckily my sister came up with a solution … i could wear the awesomely huge and quite funny-looking swim goggles that my niece had brought, and take it easy a bit skiing to avoid getting any water in my eye. it worked like a charm and i’m sure i looked gloriously nerdy behind the boat, blissed out and rocking those goggles! (wish i had a picture…!)

the past few reunions, we have started off the whole she-bang with a “kickoff” on the grass overlooking the lake. the family of the eyre sibling in charge of the reunion (we trade off year to year) reveals the theme of the reunion, and the reunion t-shirts, and the schedule for the next few days (we have just 1-2 events each day amidst lots of unstructured time playing at the beach/in the water/on the tennis court/around the cabin). there’s usually quite a bit of excitement and laughter in the air and it just feels so great to be all together.
this year i felt especially happy on the grass snuggled up to my husband, with my baby on my lap, and surrounded by family members that i adore but don’t get to see very often. after the whirlwind week of travel that we had preceding that evening, it just felt so awesome to finally be at the lake and just wrapped up in the unique gladness that i feel in that place.
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traditionally on the first night of the reunion, we have a bonfire on the beach and share the reunion playlist – we each choose a favourite song from the year and when it plays we share why we picked it. i have to say it really is magical sitting around a big fire all together under the stars (and it really is a blast to have a sparkler dance party at the end of the night).
this year my ten-year-old niece lucy chose this song for the reunion playlist. her dad had come across that funny video and her family had giggled at it when he showed it to them. but, to a crowd of family members around a bonfire at bear lake, lucy was serious when she said, “when i first heard this song, i really felt the spirit. jesus really is my friend.” and in that moment under the stars, i couldn’t stop my heart from filling with sweetness and my eyes from filling with tears. that girl – who will experience some unique struggles in her life because of a genetic syndrome she was born with – is right.
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seeing moses happy in my happy place made me so happy! little mo’s smiles were especially abundant as he was surrounded by adoring cousins (and aunts, uncles and grandparents) and because he had so many new places and toys and experiences to discover. he loooooved playing in the sand (but actually didn’t totally love being in the water because bear lake is so cold – usually he’s a complete water baby!).
during lunches at the beach pavilion, moses sometimes hung out in a pack n play crib so his crawling was contained while we all ate. a few different times i caught glimpses of him peering around at all the people around him with just a huge, stoked smile on his face, taking it all in.
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my mom is basically the awesomest and organizes little “grammie camps” for the kids each summer during a few days before or after the reunion. since she lives far away from most of her family members, it’s so fantastic that she does this to bond with and teach her grandchildren. the kids of all ages absolutely love it, because it’s practically impossible to not love spending sime with my mom (no matter the activity). some years she focuses grammie camp on classical music, some years on art, some years on scriptures, and this year it was all about our ancestors. 
you don’t get to go to grammie camp until you are five years old, but every year mom has a little “grammie camp party” for the littlest grandkids – and it was so fun for moses to go this year! we had a dance party, a water balloon activity and a little craft, and at the end grammie gave each kid a cute little stuffed dog.
moses also had some sweet time with grandfather, including his first horse back ride! 

another traditional part of the reunion is the doubles’ tennis tournament. my dad is a huge tennis lover and we’ve been playing tennis at bear lake as long as i can remember. each married couple in the family partners up for the tournament, and more recently the grandkids have been participants, too! ian and i don’t have a history of doing too well in the tournament…neither of us are very good players…so getting past the first round is a feat for us. and we did it this year! we were slated up against our nieces elle and claire and beat them 6-4 (we were honestly shocked that we won). ian gets really into the tennis tournament, and every year we say we are going to practice throughout the fall, winter and spring so we can have a better showing at the next reunion… (we lost to elle and claire’s parents in the second round…but it was a close match at 7-5!)
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^^ this picture shows off the sweet double-glasses look that i sported throughout our time at bear lake – because of my eye injury, i couldn’t wear contacts so had to wear glasses, but it was so sunny that i had to wear sunglasses on top of my glasses, haha! this picture also shows off that there’s much more sunshine in hawaii and arizona – where claire and elle live – than in london ;) ^^

my siblings and i are notorious for being big-time night owls, and that comes out a lot when we are together at bear lake and enjoying rare time together (since we are so spread out in where we live). one night this year a few of us stayed up talking until 2:30am – eek! but it was such a good, deep discussion – none of us could tear ourselves away (even me, who knew that moses would be up at the crack of dawn!). another night, after the reunion had ended, my sister saydi and i got some in-laws hooked on a fascinating conversation and we were up past midnight talking on the deck under the night sky. there are few things i love more than those late night talks at the lake – siblings and in-laws sharing different perspectives and us all learning from each other.

moses, ian and i were at the lake all together for five days. ian went to work in his firm’s salt lake city office and little mo and i stayed up at the lake for two and a half extra days. no matter how long i am at the lake (this year was shorter than many years for me), it just never seems like quite enough time. this year i didn’t get on the sail boat, or up the canyon for the hike to bloomington lake, and i wished for more time swimming with my sisters and playing with my nieces and nephews.
on my last day at the lake, i went out on the water on the paddle board while moses was napping, and thought about how it felt like i hadn’t had enough time at this special, special place. and then – i decided it was enough time. i stood on top of the water, looked at the mountains and the sky and the clouds, breathed it all in to my heart, and decided it was enough. i was filled up until next year.

there was the most spectacular sunset of the summer (i’m sure of it!) on my last night at bear lake. the sky, three hundred and sixy degrees around, was saturated with changing colour and moving texture and the light was heavy and dewey. there was weather stirring in the air – a storm clearly approaching. we all watched the heavens evolve from the deck through dinner and cleanup and a bit of dessert, and we moved inside once darkness had finally prevailed. just a few minutes later, my dad popped his head in the kitchen and said, “you all need to come back outside and watch this lightening.”
we ended up turning all the lights in the house off and sitting on the deck for nearly an hour watching the sky swirl and flash and rumble. it was absolutely the most amazing lightening storm i’ve ever seen. there were near constant flashes of light - sometimes behind a cloud just illuminating the blackness and making the dark lake shine blue, and sometimes in clear, hyper-branched rods of electricity spindling across the sky that turned our silence into “woooooah”s. we could feel the sheet of rain getting closer and closer until bam, it hit and we scurried inside.
it was magical. and the most beautiful parting gift from my happy place to me. lightening rods imbuing my veins with all the personal memories and love and wonder of bear lake.

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happy wednesday! life is beautiful.
more pictures from bear lake coming soon!

25 July 2017

the mo turns one!

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9 july was a special day that marked one year with our little moses! we were lucky to celebrate with family – grandma, grandpa, uncle brig, aunt luci, and cousin sophia. it was incredibly tender to think back on the three hundred and sixty five days since moses thames arrived earthside. in private, i experienced several beautiful, teary moments of overwhelming gratitude, love and joy. and all together, we partied!

to be frank, moses’s first birthday went about the same as his actual birth day one year previous – nothing quite went as planned/envisioned – haha! poor little mo – usually bursing with smiles and giggles and glee - was under the weather and just not himself. we ended up enjoying a special birthday breakfast and cake and ice cream without moses because he was grumpy and had gone to sleep. we were sad for moses that he couldn’t delight as much in things that usually bring him lots of delight. but we showered him in love and affection, and i like to think he felt our extra concentration of gratitude and adoration on his special day.

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^^ our sister-in-law lucia made the yummiest birthday breakfast for everyone. check out her food blog! ^^
^^ moses yawning through an attempt for a family picture on the back porch swings :) ^^
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^^ ian’s mom’s grandfather (so moses’s great great grandfather!) made that rocking horse! little mo loved it. we tried to get some good one-year-old pictures of our boy, but he wasn’t in quite the mood for posing. he’s so so sweet, even when he’s sick. ^^
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^^ i made one of mo’s favourite meals for dinner and made sure everyone (including baby sophie!) wore a party hat :) ^^
aaaaand, here’s an obnoxious number of photos of moses with his birthday cake. grandma wright made the most awesome under-the-sea themed (to go with our trip to the aquarium and mo’s favourite book) cakes – one for the adults and one smaller one just for moses to dig into. i wish grandma could make a cake for all of our kids’ birthdays every year – she is so so good at it! (after moses went to bed on his birthday, all the adults sat around and laughed and admired pictures of ian  and all of his siblings with their amazing cakes lovingly made by their mom for each birthday – the decorations so varied and awesome.)
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^^ haha isn’t this series of photos amazing?! he wasn’t too into those kisses in that moment! ^^
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mo’s cake smash didn’t go quiiiite as expected – if he wasn’t sick he for sure would have gone wild shoveling that goodness into his mouth – but instead he just curiously picked at the candy decorations on top.
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^^ brown sugar sand and chocolate rocks and gummy fishies and sharks and octopi! thank you again for this super special gift, grandma wright! ^^
^^ moses opened a couple of presents before bed, and then we all partied some more with the adult cake and some ice cream while he tried to sleep off that cough and runny nose! ^^
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^^ a good night’s rest definitely helped! the next day moses was all about smashing that cake – yay! ^^
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<<< one more photo of the adult cake. because isn’t it awesome?!

i really can’t believe we have a one year old! this tiny boy has filled our lives with a crazy amount of crazy joy. i don’t know what we did with ourselves before he came along! ian and i are so grateful to be parents, and every night we kneel and thank god for sending moses to our family. he is teaching us so much and watching him grow up has been the most intensely sweet experience. the past year has undoubtedly been the best of my life because of this little boy (and his dad being his dad).

i am so excited for another year ahead with moses thames.

24 July 2017

london—>new york city—>baltimore—>dallas—>salt lake city & provo

we returned to london last night after two and a half weeks in the usa visiting family. it was a wild wonderful whirlwind trip that included lots of spectacular highs along with a few not-so-fun lows. we were able to see nearly every family member on both sides (we sadly missed one of ian’s brothers and his family, and an eyre niece and nephew) and to enjoy some of our favourite places and american stuffs.

the first half of our trip was a lot of city hopping – we flew into new york city and then took a train to baltimore, then hopped on a plane to dallas, celebrated moses’s first birthday at grandma and grandpa’s house (another post coming all about that special day!), then flew to salt lake city and drove down to provo to visit ian’s grandparents and spend a night with his two sisters and their husbands. phew! after that we had one short day in slc seeing friends (moses and me) and working (ian) before heading up to bear lake (where we spent the second half of our trip).

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^^ we were only in nyc for about fourteen hours, all of which were spent in transit, in slumber, or in a jet laggy haze. but i insisted we spend just a tiny sliver of time soaking in the awesome electricity of the city on a street corner before getting on the amtrak train to baltimore. there’s just no place like new york city! ^^
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^^ after the train ride, it was so so fun for moses to be reunited with his cousins! ian’s brother just moved to baltimore about two weeks before we got there, so it was great to see their new house and hear about their new life! i failed to get any pictures of the adults (whoops!), but seriously little mo was super excited to be playing with cousins (even if he looks not super enthused in this picture ;) ) ^^
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after a pizza dinner and games (and jet lag hitting hard), the next morning we headed to a beach on the chesapeake bay with margaret and the kids. ^^ it was a beautiful day and everyone had a total blast swimming (and margaret and i enjoyed chatting on the shore). our time in baltimore was so short but really great. ^^
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our flight to dallas was delayed four hours so we had a realllly late arrival (2:30am!) but were excited to play with grandma and grandpa, uncle brig, aunt lucia, and cousin sophie in the morning! (ian’s youngest brother and his wife and baby were living with ian’s parents – they just moved to boston last week!)  ^^ in the afternoon, we went together to the dallas world aquarium as a little birthday party activity for moses (his birthday was the next day, sunday). the aquarium was so cool and also so crowded, and all the traveling had caught up with the sweet birthday boy – he had a runny nose and a cough and was just not feeling well :( poor baby was seriously trying to enjoy seeing things that normally would make him wild with glee, but just wasn’t himself. still, we all eight appreciated the wonders of the aquarium and loved being together. ^^
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^^ we had lots of chill hang out time at grandma and grandpa’s house, which was wonderful (especially the time spent playing with the new basketball game that had shown up in the living room since we were last there…). love seeing these two cousins (almost exactly six months apart) together. we couldn’t sit them toooo close together for photos though because moses just wanted to grab his cutie cousin’s eyes and nose and ears – she’s irresistible :) ^^
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^^ grandma put up lots of decorations around the house for little mo’s birthday. a whole post about our celebrations coming next. ^^
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after spending five hours waiting in line at the texas dmv (yuuuuck!) and saying goodbye to grandma and grandpa, we flew to salt lake and spent the night at my parents’ condo downtown. ^^ first thing in the morning, we drove down to provo to visit ian’s grandparents. they are all four so sweet and i love being in their homes. (having spent the majority of my life with only one living grandparent, i relish this stuff.) i know moses doesn’t look super happy in that picture with grandma allred, but he really did have a blast at his great grandparents’ houses (he was just woken up a little early from his nap!). i’m so grateful for the heritage that my children have because of these noble souls. ^^
^^ we spent the evening with ian’s two sisters and their husbands (who all live in provo). we had dinner, played games, and stayed up late talking and laughing. love these guys! ^^
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^^ back in salt lake, i was able to be reunited with my dear dear friend sara (we hadn’t seen each other in two years and had never met each other’s babies!) and have a lunch picnic with three of my best friends from high school (and their seven children!). it’s always so wonderful to reconnect in person and i’m so grateful for good, good friends. ^^

we are so blessed to have so many amazing people in our lives!
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