First in our books

Welcome to the July 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Family Vacation

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared their family-travel tips, challenges, and delights. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.



As I sit here typing, I’m recovering from our first ever vacation. We traveled to Canada to visit with my family… We hadn’t been there since the summer of 2007. Seven years people. As a result the trips was less of a wandering and more of a cram-in-as-much-time-with-family-as-possible sort of trip. I was so excited about the trip that I almost lost sight of the fact that I wasn’t the only person on the trip. The day before we left, a friend briefly mentioned that I needed to keep any expectation for rest/relaxation at a bare minimum. Thankfully, that was what I needed to hear to keep myself in line!


I thought about this post all week and wondered what I would write about. I’m not a big traveler, so vacations are not high on my dream list. And although I feel like I could certainly teach courses in how to plan  and pack for a trip, I don’t feel inspired to do so. I don’t really have dreams of future travels to share with you either. Our week couldn’t have been better… there were snags here and there, of course, but all the planning in the world wouldn’t have changed them.


Because I am myself, I had lists and plans and neatly organized bags. So as I was loading the car the night before the trip, I patted myself on the back for my ingenuity. As I stood in the garage admiring my work, I suddenly remembered all the trips I took with my family growing up. We had always traveled by car and packed the majority of the food. I realized that all those years of driving around the United States prepared me for my very own trip.


I knew how to write those lists because I’d sit with my mother and write out what we needed to take for each day. I knew how to estimate our snacks because of so many hours spent trying to make it to the next stop without… stopping. And I knew how to load the back of the car because I was the kid who was always in such a hurry to get going that I’d rush the bags out to my dad. I never realized that all that time I’d spent watching my dad play luggage tetris, I was learning how to do it for myself.


On our last full day on the beach, I noticed a family paddling by in kayaks. Matt was taking photos, Liam and Sylvi were at my feet digging in the sand and I was (ironically?) reading The Wilder Life. I looked up from these pages that were spelling out my own childhood daydreams to see Kayak Family. I took a photo because seeing the two boys and their parents laughing and working together made me hope for my own future vacations.


We are home now. I’ve sorted through all the photos, ordered prints, done laundry and settled into our household again. I haven’t had the time yet to sit down and process all that we experienced. Spending late nights with my grandmother, visiting with ALL my Canadian cousins and seeing the glorious sights – all these things were what I had hoped for and more. I wonder if my own parents wished these moments for their children. I wondered if they realized those experiences were shaping my children’s future trips?


For a crazy moment I started to plan our next trip. It was a moment when I thought to myself “Wow. I am a rockstar at this traveling gig!” I’ve since slept a night and regained my sanity. I don’t want to travel again for a while. Instead, I’m content to soak in the pleasant memories of our trip and know that we can do it. We can travel as a family and live to write it in our books as a wonderful story to tell in the years to come.


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Favorite Family Vacation Recipe: Staying at Home — The best family vacation Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence could ever recommend requires minimal packing, no hotels, unrushed travel, easy meals to everyone’s taste without a bill, no schedules, everyone’s favorite interests, and three generations playing together.
  • Scared of toilets and other travel stories — Tat at Mum in search is an expert at flying with kids. She shares some of her tips and travel stories.
  • Staycation Retreat for Busy MamasLydia’s Handmade Life gives Budget-friendly, eco-friendly staycation ideas for busy work-at-home moms.
  • How We Leave It All Behind — At Life Breath Present, they don’t take traditional vacations — they go on forest adventures. Here are some tips in planning for an adventure, if you don’t just go spontaneously, as they have before. Plus, many pictures of their latest adventure!
  • Traveling while pregnant: When to go & how to manage — Lauren at Hobo Mama discusses the pros and cons of traveling during the different trimesters of pregnancy, and how to make it as comfortable as possible.
  • Our Week in Rome: Inspiration and Craft Ideas for Parents, Teachers, and Caregivers — If anyone in your family is interested in learning about Ancient Rome, if you enjoy crafts, of if you’re a parent looking for a fun staycation idea, check out Erin Yuki’s post for a Roman-themed week of crafts, food, and fun at And Now, for Something Completely Different.
  • The Real Deal: A behind the scenes look at our “Western Adventure” — Often Facebook and blog posts make vacations look “picture perfect” to outsiders. If you only looked at the pictures, Susan’s recent family vacation was no exception. In this post at Together Walking, she takes readers “behind the scenes” so they can see the normal challenges they faced and how they managed to enjoy their vacation in spite of them.
  • Welcome to the Beach House! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is in love with her family’s new “beach house”!
  • Road Trip to Niagara Falls — Erica at ChildOrganics writes about her first trip out of the country with just her and the kids.
  • 5 Essential Things to Take on Vacation — Five things Nurtured Mamas should be packing in their suitcase for their next trip, in a guest post at Natural Parents Network.
  • The Many Benefits of Camping with Friends — Do you want to go camping, but the very thought of it seems daunting? Make your life easier – and your kids happier – and go camping with friends! Dionna at Code Name: Mama discusses how much better camping can be when you join forces with others.
  • My Natural First Aid Kit for Camping, Travel, and Everyday Use — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama gives us an insiders looks at her natural first aid kit for camping, travel, and everyday use. These natural remedies have saved her hide and those of others many times! You might be surprised what made her list of must-haves!
  • Traveling Solo and Outnumbered — Alisha at Cinnamon and Sassafras shares lessons learned from a recent trip with two toddlers and no co-parent.
  • Compromise and conviction on the road — Jessica of Crunchy-Chewy Mama shares the reality vs. the dream of travel and dishes on the compromises she makes or won’t make while traveling.
  • Camping Trauma — Jorje of Momma Jorje offers why she loves camping and why she and her family are a little gun shy about it, too.
  • First in our Books — Writing fresh from her first family vacation, Laura from Pug in the Kitchen has realized that helping pack her parents’ station wagon made for a smooth and pleasant trip that was more than she hoped for!

13 Replies to “First in our books”

  1. You certainly sound like a rock star to me! And your parents, too! It’s great that you had such fond memories and memories of practical skills to draw on. I feel like I’m really making it up as I go along. We didn’t do lots of car trips, and I don’t recall making lists or planning much with my parents. We did a few fun things, but my mom always said the best part of vacation was coming home, so I kind of felt like I was just tiring her out. Sigh. Fast-forward 30-some years and that is *not* what I want my kids to be learning from me! But it might be! I had hopes of turning around an album within 48 hours in order to take advantage of a Shutterfly promotion that expires tomorrow/July 9, but if I can at least order photos for the kids to paste into their own book within two weeks of returning, that will be something! Thanks for sharing.

  2. It sounds like you had a wonderful first vacation together 🙂 Vacationing with extended family is usually *more* stressful for me, because I’m so type A when it comes to doing things. But it is so good to get together with them!!

  3. Your story about Kayak Family really rings out for me, too. I keep looking into the future when our kids are a bit older and hoping our trips will be ever more collaborative. Glad you had a good trip back!

  4. Wow, you *are* a rockstar! We always traveled by car, too… but I don’t even remember what snacks we had. I recall an occasion soda or candy from roadside attraction rest stops. I’d really like to take day trips with my family to roadside attractions here in Oklahoma.

  5. I love how you see your parents’ lessons are echoing through you and into future generations. I hope you told them! When I imagine my kids being adults, I always wonder what they will remember from everything I’m trying to teach them.

    I’m also completely impressed with your ability to plan and organize all of that. I usually pack what I can think of, comforting myself with the fact that I’ll probably be able to buy anything I’ve forgotten, and then wing it. I always wish I were more organized.

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