We started with temple work at the Rexburg temple. The adults did sealings while the older kids did baptisms.
The non-temple attending kids played in a nearby church building while they waited for us to finish.
We learned early on that Caleb's Blue Steel look would be on display frequently throughout the reunion.
After dinner at Costa Vida, we drove about 30 minutes up the road to Stonefly Lodge, our home for the next few days.
The accommodations were perfect; plenty of room for all 26 of us, pastoral views with bald eagles frequently swooping by, a rushing river and massive field for outdoor fun.
Tradition says that as soon as the reunion shirts are distributed, we line the kids up for an age-order photo.
And Caleb hiked his shorts for our viewing pleasure:
Seth demonstrated his hops by vaulting over Caleb (who was again channelling his inner Blue Steel.)
Caleb tried, but alas, does not possess his cousin's vertical amplitude.
Daniel was disappointed that this cousin pyramid did not have a "tippy-top."
The sunset that night was stunning:
The lodge was really nice. Most of the big boys shared the upstairs loft, the girls the movie room. Many of the adults had rooms with massive queen-sized bunk beds.
The next morning, we had an Olympic competition. Christopher planned our games down to the very last detail.
Target shooting with BB guns:
The log throw:
We even had a medal ceremony.
The gold medalist stood atop a chair and the silver medalist had the privilege of standing on a case of baked beans. Evidently Caleb's meaty biceps helped him win the gold in Wiffle ball batting.
We had to do a bit of searching, but Jon and I were eventually able to rent a load of inner tubes and life jackets so that we could float the river.
The water was moving quite fast and there some pretty terrifying moments for a few family members, but overall, the hour-long float was so much fun that many of us did it again the next day. I was grateful for the safety and protection we were blessed with during this activity.
After dinner we took family pictures.
What it looks like behind the scenes:
Christopher posed us and then Owen pushed the timer to take the pictures. He also thought it was funny to look away as he was taking them, so none of the pictures show Owen's face toward the camera.
My little family:
This might be the coolest cousin picture ever:
Or maybe it's this one. Cousins who dab together...
Cute girl cousins. They hold their own among all those boys.
The original six
These boys first started catching up to me in height at the 2012 reunion. In 2014 they'd all blown past me and now they are all even taller. They're such great kids.
Feeding so many mouths is no easy task, but we enjoyed lots of good food!
A day at Yellowstone was next on the agenda. My older kids were too young to remember their last visit and Natalie had never been. We had a great time seeing these natural wonders and spotting wildlife alongside the road.
We all met up at Old Faithful near the beginning of the day, but were on our own for the rest of the time in the park. We bought Caleb a hat in the gift shop to try and protect his ultra sensitive nose.
Maureen rode along in our family's car. It was fun having her with us. We stopped for a picnic at midday.
The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is spectacular!
We tried reenacting a family photo from the last time we visited, but it didn't work so well. I can't really pick Alyssa up anymore and Caleb's just too big to get on Jon's shoulders.
We even saw parts of the park we'd never seen before. Mammoth Hot Springs was really neat. There's just no shade to be had.
We saw Seven Brides for Seven Brothers that night at the Playmill Theatre. Great show. Lots of fun.
A picnic at Mesa Falls was the following day's first activity.
Jay photobombed our mother/daughter picture.
Jon tried fishing, but wasn't successful.
The talent show is a family reunion tradition. The Johnsons always have clever acts.
Caleb recruited a few cousins to help him reenact a scene from Night at the Roxbury.
Jonas displayed his musical talent.
And Ian showed off some of his tricks on his skateboard.
We ended that night, our last, with a sing-a-long around the campfire.
It was another successful reunion with many fun memories, but not having Grandma there left a very noticeable void. I'm grateful that we've made the efforts to establish these traditions which allow opportunities to strengthen family bonds.