A Family Friendly Branson, Missouri Guide

When I originally thought of Branson, Missouri, I’m not going to lie- I thought of a vacation destination for white haired folks who wanted to see redneck country shows. You know, the Midwest’s Vegas of sorts. Turns out, I was slightly wrong. While the town is definitely known for their country shows (that probably could be seen as slightly redneck)-it is also smack dab the heart of the Ozarks, and let me tell you, it is GORGEOUS. The rocky country side, the “mountains” as my family from Texas calls them (when you’re from Idaho, other parts of the country have beautiful rolling hills, but maybe not so much mounains), and the lakes and rivers. It’s much more of an outdoorsy location than I thought- I wish we had time to go fishing (because people do flock to the area for the trout) but alas a trip to the fish hatchery would have to do.

1. College of the Ozarks

I know it sounds so silly to want to tour a college during an out of town stint, but College of the Ozarks in itself is a destination.  There is a lodge to actually stay in, a restaurant, multiple touring spots and museums, and plenty of family friendly activities.  Our favorites were to tour the jam making kitchen, tractor museum, and eat ice cream from the creamery.  And to top it off, most of the museums and tours on the campus are free!  For more info on visiting the campus, click here.

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2.Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery

Located just below the Table Rock Dam, Shepherd of the Hills Fish Hatchery is not only a great place to view the dam but also to learn about trout rearing.  There are some guided tours throughout the day or you can stroll at your own pace during a self guided tour.  Click here for more info.

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3. Willow Ridge Lodge

With 14 adults and kids, we needed space to spread out.  Marriott’s Willow Ridge Lodge was the perfect accommodations for our large group, with adjoining suites and large kitchens in the rooms.  We were able to cook many meals in the room and it was so nice to simply relax in the room and on the patio overlooking the pool.

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4. Branson’s Center Stage Grill and Kaffee Haus

This restaurant not only has good food, but the meal comes with a good show! The adjoined coffee shop sells bakery items made at the restaurant and serves great coffee. More info and menu can be found here.

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5. Showboat Branson Belle

A great opportunity to see Table Rock Lake, the Showboat Branson Belle is a two hour long boat ride/show/dinner. Good food, good show, good scenery- a win!

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Lucy’s 1st Fiesta

fiesta first birthday party


I’m a bit of an obsessed planner.  I look on Pinterest for months, and in this case, well over a year for ideas.  When I was still pregnant with Lucy, I was pinning on a secret Pinterest board, ideas for Lou’s first big party.  And you know what happened?  A month before her birthday I changed themes.  It was originally going to be a luau- how cute is that?  Lucy’s Luau?!  Well, it was Fiesta time in Texas over Lucy’s birthday and I just had to incorporate some Texan love into her day.  Long story short, Lucy had a wonderful fiesta.  We ate tacos and had dairy free lemon pound cake, which Lucy didn’t really seem to enjoy eating it as much as she enjoyed feeding it to her dog.  That lucky golden retriever!

Even though the ideas changed so soon to the day, I had a lot of fun putting together her party.  There were plenty of details that didn’t quite turn out as I imagined.  For example, the cactus balloons, which are actually three balloons glued together ended up being top heavy and falling upside down- sigh.  Nor could the group of toddlers and crawlers play the flamingo frisbee toss- what was I thinking with that one? But it was a gorgeous day outside and we enjoyed spending the day with our “near and dears” as we celebrated our lovely Lulu.

A few DIY projects for the party were the cactus balloons (idea found here), cactus banner (printable here), “Can’t Touch This” cactus coloring page party favors (printable here).

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Lucy Kaye: A Birth Story

This day, one year ago, Chase and I became parents.  I can’t say the birth story is very exciting or dramatic but it was just perfect.  Here is our tale of how we became a family of 3! 

 The evening before, I had been experiencing some prelabor twinges, so we went for a walk in the park hoping to speed things along.  I woke up at 3 in the morning and could tell it was the day!  Chase and I timed the contractions at home for the next few hours- by 5 am, they were close enough and quick enough to go to the hospital- or so we thought!  On our way to the hospital, we dropped our dog off with our inlaws and in just that extra half hour, I was so ready to get to the hospital- the pain was more intense and contractions were happening often.  

We arrived to the hospital around 6 am.  The nice thing about going this early was we didn’t have to wait at all in triage!  Once I got hooked up to the machines and was checked, the nurse in her most chipper tone stated that I was dilated to a 3 so we could either go home or walk around the hospital for an hour.  “What?! But my contractions… the timing…” That morning we got just a small glimpse of what being a parent is like- the books and classes may give you advice, but your child ultimately will have the end say! 

So, we walked.  And walked and walked and walked.  After an hour of walking around the L&D floor, I was exhausted and I could tell Chase’s back was killing him (he had just had his first back surgery, the biopsy, about 4 weeks prior).  We checked back in with our nurse and once again were told to take an hour walk and if nothing had changed, we would be sent home.  I am not a violent person, but at this point I was ready to slap someone! 

We didn’t walk much- just wandered the hospital and grabbed some breakfast.  The contractions were worse but manageable and I was prepping to be sent home.  At 10am we checked in with the nurse and found out things were progressing and we were given a golden ticket to stay!  We moved into a labor room and made ourselves at home.  At this point, I wanted an epidural right away- my hip, young nurse was cool with that so we were going to get that all going when another unexpected event happened.  Shift change.  My nice nurse who was doing whatever I wanted was changed with an older, battle ax nurse who had an opinion.  She told me if I went ahead with an epidural, I would be stuck in bed, with a catheter, and labor would slow down.  Like, it could slow WAY down.  The mean nurse told me if I wanted to have the baby before the end of the day, it would benefit to hold off on the epidural as long as possible and labor just as I was, with walking and using other methods like the birth ball which I had been having relief with.  This was NOT what I wanted to hear.  But, I did want our girl out as soon as possible, so I went with her advice.  And you know, it worked.  Only a few hours later, I was progressed to a 7 at which my doctor broke my water and then shortly after I got my epidural.  Unfortunately my epidural didn’t work quite like it was supposed to because Lucy was flipped and I was experiencing back labor- not fun.  But before they even got a chance to put my catheter in I was pushing!  Lucy Kaye was born at 4:00pm on the dot.   She weighed 7 lbs 2 oz and was 19 inches long.  Our baby girl was absolutely perfect, and still is- we can’t imaging life without our little Lulu! 

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