Nevil Vacation 2015

There’s nothing quite like vacation to teach you a few things about being a parent of small children.

1. The young kids smile and say cheese for photos, the big ones look miserable in every photo.

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2. If you just stopped to get gas and didn’t give everyone the chance to pee, you will be stopping 5 minutes after you get back on the highway.

3. 5 people in 300 sq feet of space makes you desperate to either sleep or get out. How do European/Asian people live in such tight quarters? (oh yeah…they only have one child…)


Today is recovery day at Casa Nevil. We just got back from a six-day trip to the East Coast. The original reason for going was a cousin’s wedding, but we tacked on a few days and stopped all along the way for some fun. That equals vacation, right?


I was deeply amused in our 13+ hour drive by how my husband and I have morphed into parents thanks to our three passengers. It’s hilarious to think back to the days when we would do road trips just the two of us; Cheetos, Pepsi (Coke for me!), M&M’s and lots of coffee. We would drive all night long to get to where we needed to be. We’d laugh and talk and turn the music up loud and just snack like crazy.

Things look much different now! Conversations revolve more around who pooped/needs to poop, who needs their screen charged/handed back, whose light is bothering who and what snacks won’t smell/make a mess. Only water is allowed. #wearethoseparents We listened to the Frozen soundtrack a dozen times to appease the tiny terrorist. I was concerned about our carb and sugar intake the entire trip, so I kept giving the kids cheese sticks and bananas.


Despite the craziness of the trip, it really was fun. This wasn’t one of those, sit and relax sort of vacations-we were busy every minute. But we did a lot of fun things, saw great beauty and enjoyed our time together.

Still….there’s no place like home.


Lake Okoboji, Iowa Trip with the Tillman Crew

In our family, we have a sort of funny saying: “We Do Fun Here”.  You could call it a motto or even just a slogan. Sometimes we say it cynically and sometimes we say it as a way to call ourselves out of boring or even sad times. We believe the idea that “the family who plays together stays together”. So we try to get out and do fun things both around town and not so much.

This past holiday weekend we ALL desperately needed to get away. We had a pile of responsibility wearing on us and pulling us down and the months to come offer much of the same promise. A person can only be so responsible for so long before you break a bit…

So to celebrate and escape, we arranged (ok, we pretty much invited ourselves) up to Iowa where some dear military friends of ours, the Tillmans, live. Their parents have a house on a lake and invited us to come stay there and play for the weekend. We have been to visit them in their home town of Le Mars once before, but weren’t really sure how much farther or even where we would be going for the lake house. 

We ended up in beautiful South Lake, Iowa at Lake Okoboji (about 17 miles from Minnesota). 

I think in my head I kept thinking it would be a small lake, with a rustic cabin and a few people around. Instead, we got a HUGE lake, Pottery Barn-styled lake house and a ton of people around. Plus lots of amazing and fun things to do. We swam, we kayaked, we jet skied, tubed, tried the stand-up paddle board (I did it!), ate ice cream, had t-shirts made and just had an absolute blast!

It was quite a drive for us (12 hours the first time and 10 the second-we stopped a lot less!), we hit 5 states total in fact-Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and Minnesota-but it was totally worth it. I felt myself relax and unravel like a ball of yarn. And I have to apologize to the state of Iowa I think. I never thought it to be beautiful but after this trip, it is GORGEOUS! I appreciated the beauty of our drive and how relaxing it made our car time.

Sometimes you need to get away to reconnect as a family and I think this trip did just that for us. It was so good to see the boys playing and doing sporty things. They fell asleep very fast each night after full days at the lake and the pool. Cooper showed us his continual love and prowess for water and sports. He is such a great swimmer and it looks like he is a natural on the water. Chase was more timid, but he greatly enjoyed hours on the boat and at the pool swimming and making new friends with our friend’s baby, Patrick, and anyone else he met along the way. He even went for a ride with me in the kayak.

Cecelia and their daughter Nora played and were totally adorable together. My favorite memory is from dinner one night; Cecelia started to sing the ABC’s and would stop after a few letters and look at Nora with her eyes sparkling. Then Nora would pick up where Cecelia left off, say a few letters of the song and wait for Cecelia to pick it up where she left off. They went back and forth like that through the whole song and then clapped and cheered when they were done. It was SO CUTE!

And of course, as military friends know, you just pick up where you left off last time. You catch up with what you know about the other “guys” you served with and their families and you laugh and reminisce and dream of the future together.

We agreed while we were there that this needs to be a frequent happening, perhaps even an annual tradition. I am all in!