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A Day Trip To Branson, MO

My mom runs a blog called Leahsay’s Views. She does reviews, giveaways, and even posts awesome recipes. You should check it out!

A few places in Branson, MO, including Talking Rocks Cavern, The Butterfly Palace, and the Hollywood Wax Museum wanted her blog to review them, so we spent the day visiting each place.

First up was Talking Rocks Cavern (my favorite place out of all three), however, everyone gave it two thumbs up and would go back again.

The area surrounding the cavern is really pretty. They have a small putt-putt course you could try while waiting on your tour to start, there are picnic tables outside and a play area for the kids. We spent a good hour in the gift shop looking at all the neat rocks and many other items they had. The restrooms were clean, which is a huge plus, and there is an indoor area to climb around in, which my family loved.

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The tour starts at the same place it did when they first opened their doors, which is super neat. You get to hear the history of the cave and how it came to be before entering the cave itself. Once you enter you are met by a ton of narrow stairs, which I find fun, but this cave is certainly not for everyone. Anyone with any type of inability to walk through narrow, steep, sometimes slippery situations would not be able to complete the tour.

_jas5716We walked as a group to certain talking points, then stop and listen to the science and history of the cave.Our tour guide was really nice. I have been to other area caves and I would put this at the top of my list for beauty and the different rock formations you get to see. It’s not the biggest, and you see most of it right from the get go, but it was super fun. The only part that was weird was at the end of the tour where our guide turned the lights out and they had this type of colored light show set to music. The lights were fine, but the music just made it weird and unnecessary. I felt like it took away from what we were looking at. I think silence during that part would resonate more.

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Talking Rocks Cavern was worth the trip, and if you are able to walk up and down narrow, steep stairs, I would highly recommend it.

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Next up we visited Hollywood Wax Museum.

This was Lilly’s favorite place. We all enjoyed using the props and taking photos with some of our favorite celebrities. It was a good place to kill an hour and have some cute photos to look back on.

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The last place we visited was The Butterfly Palace.

We had actually been here before, so the kids knew what to expect and were excited to return. Their favorite place is the butterfly room and headed straight for it as soon as we entered the building. Most of their time was spent hunting butterflies. Then we pursued the gift shop area, the nature center, and the mirror maze. All a good time. This place is really enjoyable. highly recommend.

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A day full of fun memories was made and thank you to all the locations for having us.

Snow Creek Skiing near Kansas City MO

Back in February we went to Snow Creek up near Kansas City, MO for a fun day of skiing.

It was a first for most of us, although my husband has gone before, which was evident considering he was just crazy on the skis…. braving all the expert courses with ease.  (I stuck to the small hills with the kids).

Anyways,

The place was a blast. The price was affordable since we went as a homeschool group (only $25 a person), and we had so much fun, we are planning on going back each year!

If you are in the area, check them out. It doesn’t seem like much at first, it is mainly fake snow they create there, but once you put on the gear you start to feel like you are at an actual ski resort.

They offer skiing, snowboarding and tubing (on certain days).

Here is a short video I put together of our trip.

The Castle, Renaissance Festival-Muskogee, OK

We had never been to a Renaissance Festival until this field trip. I came across this website a few months back and bookmarked it because I knew it was something I’d like to check out with the kids.

When we arrived and drove up towards the ‘castle’ it looked so-so, but the people helped make it a day to remember. Everyone was so kind and best of all, in character. There were so many people in costumes and all dressed up, it was really neat to see.

There were a ton of booths and shops. We enjoyed looking through them, although we didn’t really buy anything.

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We came on a ‘school day’ and got a special price of $5 a ticket, which is really good considering they are normally around $15/person. (I would have been disappointed to have paid that, but it was probably worth $10…..). I thought activities were free (for some reason) and I was wrong. Everything, besides some of the ‘shows’ (music, juggling, magic show, jousting show, etc) cost an extra fee.

Plan on spending around $50 easy for a family of four, and that was with us being tight-wads!

We really enjoyed the day, you can see most everything in about 4 hours, and we found this amazing park right down the road and had a picnic afterwards.

I would recommend visiting during their school days, I believe it’s worth the trip at least once.

 

Camping/MTN Biking at Devil’s Den

A few weeks ago we drove about 2 hours away to Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas to camp and hangout at their annual mountain bike festival. I had wanted to go last year, but we didn’t get too, so this year we made the reservations so there was no turning back. Fortunately, we also went with some friends (who also happen to be our neighbors). Each of our kids had someone to hangout with and it was great because they all seem to get along well.

The festival itself wasn’t too exciting. There weren’t a lot of booths set up, but it was fun to ride with a group of MTN bikers (even if I was one of the slower ones).

Lilly went on her first trail that weekend. At first she thought it was awesome, then she started to freak herself out, but in the end she pushed through it and ended with a smile on her face, which is all I could ask for.

Everyone had a blast, except for the undeniably COLD conditions we slept it, that was pure torture at its finest. It was actually painful. Cold camping is the opposite of fun.

Some photos to document our trip….

 

Sheriff’s Office Field Trip

We went with another homeschool family to our local sheriff’s office last week. I wasn’t really expecting it to be that exciting to be honest, but thankfully, I was wrong.

The kids and I both had a great time. They took us through every part of the department starting in the Sally Port (where they bring the prisoners to book in).

Then they showed what each person got while they were there, where they stayed (even showing them the prisoners), the tower where all the door controls are, and the admin offices.

Turner, who is fascinated with the police, asked a ton of questions, including if anyone had done a pit maneuver.

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They demonstrated the taser a few times, which made the kids jump, and towards the end they got to check out the cop SUV, including the tire spikes.

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It was a great trip; I’m glad we went.

Field Trip: Branson

We went down to stay at Big Cedar in Branson, MO last month and again last week. The first trip was hiking and go-carts, but last week we went to Silver Dollar City and The Butterfly Palace (a last minute idea because it was raining).

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The boys loved exploring all the different butterflies. Lilly liked it until they started flying near her and then she was out. Besides butterflies flying everywhere, there was a pretty neat 3D movie, a mirror maze the kids LOVED, and a small reptile area. The price was high, and we won’t go again, but it’s worth going once. Pretty much everything in Branson cost around the same for a family of 4, so no matter what we did it was ‘high cost’. We chose this because it was hands-on.

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Kansas City Field Trip Day

The kids and I had a fun time in KC a few weeks ago.

They had never been to a Krispie Kreme, so we stopped by to watch how donuts are made, then tried a few.

We headed over to the Federal Reserve afterwards. It’s free and somewhat entertaining. It’s worth a trip, especially if you have anyone over 10 in your group. My kids are all under 10, and liked it for about 30 minutes.

After that stop, we went to the SeaLife Aquarium, this was a spur of the moment thing, because I felt bad the Federal Reserve wasn’t more interesting for them. They all really loved this place. I had an IKEA family card, which got me a free child’s ticket. I think they run that promotion until the end of January.

Askinosie Chocolate Factory Tour

I recently found out about this neat chocolate factory tour, and wanted to take the kids. Since the weather has been pretty cold lately, I felt like we needed to get out of the house for a few hours, so we hopped in the car and headed towards Springfield, MO. I was pretty bummed to find out once I got there the GoPro was dead… so I managed to get a few iPhone pics instead.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetThe Askinosie Chocolate Tour was pretty awesome. It’s located in downtown Springfield, a place they are trying to help revitalize. The founder, Steve Askinosie, sold his first candy bar in 2007. Since then he’s been creating chocolate bars and they are sold online and throughout 700 stores.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetOne thing I highly enjoyed and connected with was how the company cares about its farmers, and its community. They are a small company of about 15 employees, yet they give so much back. They have a great working relationship with a local homeless and women’s shelter. The women from the shelter actually tear down the burlap bags that the beans are shipped in to reuse for packaging. They are all about reusing, reducing, and helping others. An awesome message that was an added bonus because I didn’t know any of this until we took the tour!

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetLocal Springfield community high schoolers are able to be a part of Chocolate University, the company chooses 14 students each year to travel with Steve Askinosie to one of the farms and learn all about being an entrepreneur, local culture, and the business of chocolate. Talk about an amazing experience!

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetThe kids really had a fun time; they have been talking about this morning to their cousins.. how they gets beans from farmers to make chocolate.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 presetAll three chose their favorite candy bar afterwards to enjoy later. Both Turner and Caden chose White Chocolate and Lilly chose a special bar for the holidays: Pumpkin Spice White Chocolate, which she says tastes exactly like pumpkin pie. The White Chocolate was by far the best, I think… but I’m not a dark chocolate fan.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetIf you are ever in the area, I highly recommend the tour, just a bit of warning…. stay away from the cocoa nibs!