Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Break 2015: Branson's Scenic Railway

On Saturday morning we woke up to delicious pancakes and bacon that were extra awesome because each child got one made in the shape of their first initial thanks to one of the talented and creative dads. (To see just how cool the pancakes were click here.)

And as if the pancakes weren't enough, to top it all off, there were some really fun relays that he brought for the kids to enjoy too.  (Just FYI, we were vacationing with LRSD's Educator of the Year, who is more than awesome, I might add).  The kids had a great time!
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From there we headed over to the Branson Scenic Railway. We had packed sack lunches and were hoping to eat a bite before boarding the train since we couldn't take any food on it.  I didn't think that would be too tall of an order but when we arrived there was nothing but gravel to sit on and the cherry on top was that it was windy and freezing outside!  So, what's a group of twenty three people to do? Oh ---just nonchalantly sit down inside the train depot's gift shop and promptly eat said lunch.  I was a tad mortified by the whole scene that was unfolding, but with no better option on the table (or lack thereof), we quickly ate our sack lunch and headed out to the platform to wait to get on board. It is pretty amazing that we were able to fit eleven small children onto one industrial size floor mat. Thankfully the shop employees were gracious and kind and did not say one word about the massive scene we were making.
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We boarded the train and headed to the farthest point that we could.  Turns out we ended up in the best seats on the train, they even reclined!  We were right by the bathrooms which gave the kids even more rooms to roam about.


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The train ride was really quite smooth and pleasant, a true experience of travel from yesteryear.  As we boarded there was 1940's big band music playing throughout as well as beautiful scenery to take in.

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This conductor was so kind and helpful with all our many children.
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There were some serious faces and silly faces, some dancing in the aisle as well as hide and go seek between the seats.  No matter what they were doing, the kids were having a blast!
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The train ride and all the activities had these little people tuckered out so the littlest ones napped while the bigs watched a movie quietly. A couple of the dads took an afternoon jog while the Momma's enjoyed come conversations with chips and dip.
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Once the littles woke we got them all suited up to go swimming. As we were heading out the door and loading into the car I looked at Adam's back and saw that he had an entire granola bar stuck to it, proof that we were in fact surrounded by little people and lots of messy situations. We got a pretty good laugh out of it, I still don't know how he didn't feel the weight of it on his back! The indoor pool wasn't on the grounds of the cabin so it took a little time and was a bit of a hunt to find but we finally got there and the kids were thrilled to get to swim.
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We'd planned to take the kids and do a pizza buffet but when we arrived there was literally about 100 people standing in line waiting to order, needless to say we turned on our heels and headed back to the cars, ordered pizzas and took them back to the cabin.  

Like I said yesterday, the reason this trip went so well was because we all had the same mode of operation, and rolled with the punches.  We knew to expect a little bit of crazy but we hoped for the best.  And though things were a little bit chaotic at points, overall, I think everyone had a terrific time, I know my kids sure did!!

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Spring Break 2015: Silver Dollar City

I can hardly believe that Spring Break has come and gone; we had a really fun week.  It started out slow and easy, which was a really nice change of pace for sure.  We had several days in a row of picnics and playdates with friends. The big boys very much enjoyed being out of school!
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This is a wonderful group of kiddos, how cute are they--just watching the ducks and looking at the boats?
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One afternoon the boys asked me if they could swim around in the hot tub, we usually say no, but I couldn't resist their passionate requests.
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And sweet Ava Jane wanted to play the piano like Daddy one morning, so I thought this little moment was too cute not to document!
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Toward the end of the week several families had decided to rent a cabin in Branson and take the kids to Silver Dollar City and to ride Branson's Scenic Railway. As we planned the trip, I knew it was going to be a bit of a crazy endeavor.  How many people do you know who take 15 kids to an amusement park, most of who were six years old and under?  But the best part of the trip (other then all the smiles on our kids faces) was the fact that all of us were on the same wave length, we all went into it knowing that there was sure to be a hairy moment or two but we all embraced the crazy and had a really fun time!

Three families arrived on Thursday evening.  While the adults unpacked the cars, our children got acquainted with their surroundings and ran off a little pent up energy.  They also enjoyed playing foosball and watching the dads play a little pool.
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Once all the kids were down each night we enjoyed playing games.  I got a refresher course on Settlers of Cattan, its a strategy game that is challenging but fun.  It was nice to have time for uninterrupted conversations where many a laugh was shared.
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As we were walking into Silver Dollar City on Friday morning it was a bleak, cold, rainy kind of day.  I was hopeful that we would have fun, but was not totally convinced that the whole thing wouldn't go down hard and fast with our small pre-school that we were herding through the entrance.  With a few sprinkles falling we decided to go under ground to avoid the cold conditions.  So we toured SDC's Marvel Cave.  It was huge, to say the least.  The cathedral room was so large, that on its 100th anniversary they were able to blow up five hot air balloons inside of it.  I must say, with the 600 steps down and back up, our children did pretty good, though most of us adults had our arms full with one or two toddlers at any given time which meant we got a good bicep burn.
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After we left the cave the weather was actually clearing up, though it was still pretty cool, but that didn't phase the kids, they were ready to hit the rides.
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There were all kinds of tasty treats, from smothered nachos to fresh made pork rinds and let me not forget my favorite…the funnel cake!
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There were some crazy moments, I won't lie, but truly overall, the day at SDC went amazingly well all things considered.  I was a little leary that we'd be able to make it from open to close without having naps, but all the kids were such troopers, they did awesome and we literally shut the place down.

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The sun came out and we had a lot of fun with people we love and that made it a great day!
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To see Carol's take on the trip click here, the train ride will be up tomorrow.
 
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