Whole Parenting Family

I didn’t know what a family vacation was like and we LOVED it


We had never taken a family vacation with all three kids before this summer.

A vacation with just our family of five. Not to visit family or friends. Not for a wedding. Not for a baptism. Just away. Just us.

And clearly now I know what we were missing. We spent almost five days at our place in Wisconsin and could have stayed a million years. My mom has outfitted it with all the books and games of our childhood, and even though we go almost weekly for a day trip, this was our first time simply immersing ourselves in its over 100 acres of beauty with all three kids.


No agenda. No schedules. No obligations. Just us.


We picked apples from an ancient apple tree and made a crisp.


We hiked on the trails and waded in the creek.


We scouted on the location of a future tree house//fort. RIGHT UP THERE. What a tree!


The beach in front of the tree doesn’t look too shabby, either. Lots of rocks to splunk.


We read so many books. So so so many and many more. Everyday had a cadence of reading, playing cards, playing outside, snacks, meals, naps, AA going for his marathon training run, and me sewing. Everyday had its fair share of screaming and fighting but with no agenda and a relaxed day, that was much less than I had anticipated.


When you two oldest can play UNO together: sudden and constant entertainment.


One morning it was chilly enough for hot cocoa on the porch.


They discovered coloring books my oldest sister had half-colored 35 years ago.


He ate like a king and learned to feed himself with a spoon. THANK YOU, spoon-gods!


She hustled and worked outdoors whenever the guys were out there. Tough lady.


And my mom joined us for the end of it, doing her amazing NuNu voodoo that meant the kids were happy and we could actually go and do the trails ourselves.

I hope you got a little sliver of respite this summer. I hope you’re approaching the fall with a fresh heart. Ready for apple cider, fires in the fireplace, and cold wind rattling at the windows. No matter how simple or how grandiose, just a break, just a refresher, I hope that for you.

I’ll post what we ate next week. It was so easy to cook when someone is there to play with the kids!! sneak preview . . . 



  1. Ana on August 27, 2015 at 6:39 am

    oh Nell, this looks so beautiful! What a blessing of a house for your family! So glad you were able to rest

  2. Rachel on August 27, 2015 at 7:52 am

    This looks and sounds glorious Nell! No schedules are the bestest! And how do grandmas always have that magic about them with the grandkids? Amazing and a blessing:) have a beautiful day!

  3. Colleen on August 27, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Just wanted to comment that the picture of your mom bathing your littlest is beautiful.

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 27, 2015 at 8:26 pm

      Isn’t she amazing??

  4. Jenna on August 27, 2015 at 11:25 am

    Sounds like the perfect vacation!

  5. AnneMarie Miller on August 27, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    That sounds awesome! What a gift to have such an incredible family place to stay in!

    • Natural Mama Nell on August 27, 2015 at 8:29 pm

      It’s such a dream!

  6. Laura @ Mothering Spirit on August 27, 2015 at 8:26 pm

    You all look so happy there – glowing!! Also: that tree = treehouse perfection. Swoon! Sabbath time is so happy and holy. Go figure!

  7. Amy @ Motherhood and Miscellany on August 27, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    So amazing. Gorgeous pictures. I’m glad you had such a good time. We almost never do this either, just the five of us without some sort of agenda. I actually can’t think of the last time we did. . . Hmmm. Maybe we need to???

  8. Laurel on August 29, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    Good vacations are so soul lifting. 🙂 What a wonderful way to spend the week!

  9. Christie @ Everything to Someone on September 7, 2015 at 6:44 am

    Sounds amazing!

  10. […] Last year we did this for the very first time: we took a family vacation staycation at my folks’ home in Wisconsin just us. Not to travel for a baptism or a wedding or another family to-do–just for us to bond, be quiet, have temper tantrums in nature, and eat lots and lots of good food. […]