Beach (Lake) Baby

Kristen's in-laws have a house on Beaver Lake and are always gracious about letting us stay there. We had planned to go out for the weekend after Branson and stay the night with Kristen, then head to Beaver, which is only about a 25 minute drive. We let Zoe take a nap on Saturday and then packed up our gear. We were thinking we'd probably not spend the night, but threw in Zoe's pack and play, just in case. We pulled up, and lo-and-behold, there was a truck there parked already. Hmmm.  Somehow communication wires had been crossed somewhere, and there was another family staying the weekend. They were lovely, gracious people though, and let us share the dock for the afternoon, and weren't at all put out by us crashing their party. (And shared their floats and noodles and even gave some fruit to Zoe.)

Zoe seemed to enjoy the water, for a while. She wanted to be in the water with us, rather than in her float. It's hard to explain to a 15 month old that Daddy can't touch the bottom, so if you want to swim, you have to stay in the float. We made it work with lots of entertainment on our part. We'd bought her some sunglasses at an outlet mall in Branson. We'd say, "How cool is Zoe?", she'd put them on, make a cheesy face, then rip them off. I really don't know how some moms can get their kids to wear sunglasses and keep them on longer than five seconds. Anyone have any tips? Or is it a personality thing? After a while, she didn't want to be in the water anymore, so we took turns watching her on the dock. Well, Auntie Kristen did most of the watching. They had fun playing together.

Here's a few more beach baby photos from the lake:

Sugared donuts from Pinterest...thank you Auntie Kristen! They were addictive!



Isn't it great to be able to get away for a little while, even if it's just an extended weekend? I've been looking forward to this all summer. We left on Thursday after Nathaniel was finished teaching at Butler and headed to Branson. We planned to stay one night with my parents and just explore on Friday. It's hard to decide what to do sometimes with a toddler that still takes two naps (hooray when you're at home, not so much when you're out and about.) We made it to Missouri with not much fuss on Zoe's part...she's at the age where she doesn't much like to be cooped up anywhere, especially her carseat. She really did well, though, until the late afternoon fussy time. We had to endure her fussiness and squirminess for about an hour during which time I was half turned in my seat trying to entertain her. I ended up with a raw spot on the back of my arm! We'd brought the classical cd she usually goes to sleep to, but it was hard for her to get comfortable.  She finally fell asleep with her leg crooked over the arm of her carseat with her arm up behind her head. She woke up much happier and we made it into Springfield for dinner and then to Branson before too late. A late evening swim in the pool and then to bed for Zoe, while we adults hung out in the lobby until it was our bedtime. Traveling with kids requires flexibility! Last summer we went to Wisconsin when Zoe was only 10 weeks old. I think we might have been a little crazy. This trip was much shorter and much easier. Side note here: there are some children and teens that haven't been taught proper behavior when you're at a smallish hotel pool. We'd gotten there and had Zoe in her little pool float and were hanging out in the shallow end, right by the wall. Two boys came in--one about 13 and one probably 16--and they jumped in not far from us and started playing a game where they tried to splash and dunk each other. Mind you, the distance from us to them was probably less than three feet. I teach middle school, so you think I'd be more understanding, but really?

We didn't really do a whole lot in Branson, but it was great to be together with my parents. My aunt Barbie came up for the afternoon and dinner. We ate at the Keeter Center Restaurant at College of the Ozarks, which is about a 10 minute drive from Branson. All the food is locally grown and is served by students. We loved it and would definitely go back. If you're in the area, you should definitely give it a try. The prices are a little high, but comparable to any "nice" restaurant on the strip, and you knew at this place that everything was high quality and fresh. And the fresh rolls with homemade apple butter were amazing. I think I ate four of them. Maybe five.

Fun at the Outlet Mall

The Disney Store? You never told me this place existed...you can buy a million Pooh Bears here!

My new friend

In the lobby of the hotel, they had all these huge bears. This was our favorite place to hang out.

Pan-blackened catfish on quinoa and vegetables

Half a chicken, cooked two ways with garlic mashers and a okra-tomato salad with apple cider vinegar (This was my order and it was so, so good.)

Aunt Barbie & Dad

Love you, Auntie Barbie! Zoe's in her pj's for the drive down to Kristen's.

Happy Mom & Dad

The Keeter Center's outdoor porch


Free concerts and other summery things

Funny memory this morning, thanks to this:

Did you know you're never supposed to put an apple and a banana in the same area? The ethylene gas from the apple messes with the ripening of the banana. How do I know this, do you ask? When we went to Canada the summer after we got married, we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Montreal. The man that ran the B & B did not have a very high opinion of Americans. He was condescending in every way and did not make us feel one bit welcome. In the morning, when we arrived for our scant breakfast, Nathaniel took one of two bananas that were hanging on a banana hook. He placed the leftover banana in the fruit bowl on the counter, which contained apples among other fruit. The innkeeper looked down his nose at him and plucked the offending banana from the bowl: Don't you know you NEVER put a banana... And all I remember thinking was, Really? Did you really just correct a paying customer about a BANANA? So anyway, I guess I didn't really learn that lesson well. That poor ripe banana.

But I started writing about free concerts and other fun summer outings. So many things to be thankful for today: a quietly napping baby, dinner at NJ's and the Spiderman movie with Nathaniel last night, (Zoe-keeping courtesy of his parents...thank you thank you), the upcoming prospect of working part-time and stretching my brain (I have been having such fun lesson planning...well hello teacher nerd), and free events in the summer.

Thursday evening we went to a free concert at WSU, part of their Art for Your Ears concert series. We got to hear Gretchen Peters. They had free ice cream and free ice-cold water bottles, and the whole event was lovely! They have one per month in the summer. The next one is August 2nd. Read here for more information.

These were pint sized water bottles dipped in orange paint!

I hope you're finding fun things to do this summer!