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

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