Four Generations, One Bimini Top

A multi-generational family cruises in their new ‘toon

December 2023 Feature

Who’s that peacefully chartering along at a pace that unfurls the beautiful scenery like a painted Asian scroll? No, who’s that twisting figure eights around the swell heads?

That would be Jessica and Tony Bruno, a New England couple with different ‘tooning styles who nonetheless agreeably share one Sweetwater Premium pontoon and one house with four generations of their family.

Their anything-but-ordinary living arrangements began in 2008 when Jessica, Tony and their son and step-daughters moved back into Jessica’s childhood home for a short stay while they scouted for a new house. As fate would have it, they never ended up leaving and Jessica’s grandparents jumped into the fun. And fate can certainly take interesting turns, as Jessica says, “If someone told me 10 or even five years ago that my family and I would be living with four generations, I would have said, ‘NO WAY!’”

But once everyone settled in together, the whole crew sang a new tune.

“Honestly, we are truly blessed because the memories that we are making are out of the ordinary and I feel very lucky,” says Jessica.   

Jessica headed a family blog called Four Generations One Roof. It was started as a way to keep in touch with the rest of her family, “kind of like weekly journal entries,” she explains.

It took off. People found them and started following the blog, which evolved with an added DIY renovation/decorating/home living twist. Then ABC News with Dianne Sawyer found them for a big feature, and the blog really hit its running stride after that.


But what first got this amazing family interested in buying a pontoon? The siren call of three beautiful lakes literally five minutes from their colonial home. The family had wanted to really experience the lakes, especially Lake Winnipesaukee, in the up-close-and-personal way you only can get through boating and camping. Though neither Jessica nor Tony had any boating experience, she pointed out, “We’ve always wanted to do it and what are we gonna do, just sit around ‘till we die?”

That’s not their style. So in one weekend, they went out and bought a camper and their Sweetwater pontoon from Rockingham Boat in Salem, N.H. The fabulous thing about this company is they go above and beyond to help the brand-new boater, as the Brunos found out.

“They’ll put it in any lake you want them to, show you how to drive it, even haul it away and winterize it for you,” Jessica enthuses.

And after two hours out on the lake being shown everything onboard, how to be safe and how to dock it, the Rockingham Boat employees waved goodbye and a new chapter in family life began.

Discovering Your Role

The boating began with some funny experiences as Tony and Jessica began discovering their different tastes. It began with deciding who was going to dock the boat.

“That was like an anxiety panic attack if my husband was going to dock the boat,” Jessica jokes. “And he likes to go fast and I don’t. I like to go five miles per hour and just see the scenery, while he likes to whip around out there in the pontoon.”

Finding A Common Bond

Like the many colors Crocs are sold in, the vast diversity of opinions you’ll find in a multi-generational home are all across the spectrum. But one favorite thing the whole clan agrees on from 6-years-old to 86 are the pontoon cook-outs. Their new pontoon seats 10 people and is a perfect fit for everyone from little Tony to Great-Grandpa.

This past summer, the family hit the camping hard, spending three months right at the lake in their camper. Return trips home were clipped down to the essentials—preparing food and doing the laundry.

“We’d have dinner ready and just bring it out on the boat to eat, and go for a sunset boat ride,” Jessica says.

With everything from tubing to watching Fourth of July fireworks burst over the water, the family has embraced the ‘tooning way to the fullest.

Getting Creative

One of the most creative things the Brunos have done with their pontoon so far is set up a lemonade stand onboard. In a sponsored blog post for Birch Lane, Jessica magically transformed a card table into a summery explosion of color.

“It’s a fun thing to do on the lake with your kids,” Jessica says. “The setup was a hit and Birch Lane got gorgeous shots of the lemonade stand with the beautiful silvery lake coloring the background.”

So far, the various entertainment options have been one of their favorite things about the boat. They can take out the whole family for a sunset tour, the kids with a lemonade stand, or a gang of girlfriends for a dinner cruise, and with a creative flair like Jessica has, you can even transform card tables into beautiful beverage stations.

It’s the epitome of pontoon lifestyle—with all ages of her family around, the sweet breeze kicking up, and the feel of the steering wheel in her hands, Jessica says, “Now we’ve got it all.”

Family Blog

The Four Generations, One Roof family blog covers DIY home projects, building, cooking and decorating, salted with the hilarious relational stories that tend to happen while doing all of these things together. Jessica explains, “It’s like two and a half men…plus a girl.”

She usually heads the decorative ideas, “although I think I might be able to build a house once my dad is finished with me,” she adds.

Her dad is the builder, Gramps is the supervisor and the kids add a fun sense of chaos to the mix. Jessica’s mom is often out with the horses, Gram is attached to daytime TV soap operas, and her husband Tony is away at work or playing his drums.

The old colonial home, dubbed the “compound,” has been owned by Jessica’s parents for over three decades. Growing up, they had always kindly taken in the troubled friends who needed a place to stay.

Now with the whole family busy building, cooking, and crafting, there’s a lot to blog about.

“Hopefully we inspire you to DIY and have fun doing it. Who knows, maybe inspire you to live with four generations of family yourself and create your ‘own compound,’” Jessica jokes.

Can you imagine living with four generations? Well, now you can, thanks to this woman’s hilarious and quaint writing that covers all the bumps, laughs and bruises that come with living together. After all, with posts like “How To Make Crockpot Lasagna” “Staining A Deck In The Muck Of The Lake,” and “My Gram Ran,” who wouldn’t be intrigued? Visit for more information.





  • Like what you read?

    Want to know when we have important news, updates or interviews?

  • Join our newsletter today!

    Sign Up
You Might Also Be Interested In...

Send to your friends!

Click here to read the current issue.

Already a subscriber? Please check your email for the latest full issue link.