Sunday, June 5, 2016


About 6 or 7 months ago my dad called and told Justin and I both to mark our calendars that he was getting everyone in the family together in Branson and it was not optional. He and Mom had found a cabin to rent for 3 nights which would accommodate the entire family and they weren't the only ones looking forward to this little trip--I can't even recall the last time we were all under the same roof for multiple days in a row.

As the dates approached we kept checking the weather and things looked clear and sunny but like typical Missouri/Kansas/Arkansas weather, things changed and rain was in the forecast for most of our time there but we were going to make the most of it.

We started off our adventure the only way we know how---with John Space Age Donuts.

We headed down to my Mom and Dad's on Thursday and followed them the rest of the way down. As soon as we arrived we all unloaded our cars quickly as the rain was headed in. My dad entertained the littles as the rest of us put everything away...

As we waited for the rest of the family to arrive we got a game of Left, Center, Right going. & yes, we played for money and the kids are learning to gamble but they also worked on who was to their left and their right! Logan thought he was pretty hot stuff...

But once Blakers arrived the littles wanted nothing to do with us. They just adore their older cousin--I think his pretty special too. 

Friday arrived and it was still raining. We had figured that we could do a shopping day for the girls and the boys could go to the pool but with the rain continuing throughout the day we had to find something else to entertain the littles--Did someone say magic? I mean we are in Branson---where Las Vegas performers go when their shows get canceled. We saw Rick Thomas, who was actually pretty good and the boys loved it but we could not for the life of us figure out how old he was. It is like no where!! Go ahead, look it up---you won't find his DOB anywhere, its like magic. 

Of course the kids had to have popcorn and slushies and Grandma Sara happily obliged. 

The show lasted a few hours & both boys couldn't stop talking about it. I got to go up on stage and help out with a few of the acts and I couldn't even begin to tell you how I think he did those tricks---unless his assistant is super flexible. After the show was over we got to meet his two dogs who are part of the show & each kiddo purchased a stuffed tiger which proceeds went to benefit his tiger foundation. 

We stopped for ice cream before heading back to the cabin & walking into this...guess she needed a quick power nap for the intense game of pitch which was only hours away from happening.

Saturday it was an early start for most of us. Jennifer and the BIG kids--Brett and his girlfriend, Anne--were going to meet up with us later, the rest of the clan was ready to for a day of adventure when the park doors opened. (Zack and Lindsey had a work event to attend that morning with Zack's employer, so they too met up with us a little later but we got the Miss Madi!)

We started off our adventure with a little carnival game--Papa Tom gave each kiddo a chance to win a dog. Kaden stepped up to go first and won a medium size dog. Logan and Leah won small dogs and Blake came through with the large dog for Madison. Such a sweet cousin he is. But now we had to carry these darn things around for the rest of the day.

Up next, the Tea Cups--me with the little, littles and Kaden with the big kids. More like, they wanted to spin around like crazy and we didn't!

We hit the flying elephants---I think they were elephants. When we got off we realized that Papa Tom and Justin were searching for a locker to keep their new dogs--good idea and we met up with them at Grandfather's Mansion. The boys laughed so hard going through this crooked house. It was always one of my favorites growing up too.

The big kids got locked up in the jail---they play the part of upset criminals pretty good. 

We then took in the first Main Street Shootout & the cap guns were quite loud and the boys loved being a safe distance away from the action. 

It was now time for a few rides and the American Plunge was just around the corner. Kaden wasn't really wanting to go so I suggested that Blake and I take off to ride Wild Fire first and then we would come back and check to see if he had changed his mind. While we were gone he stood on the observation deck and got drenched--he was game. & so was my dad, which made me relax a little more because I knew we could sandwich Kaden in between us & we did. Thanks to Justin we got it on camera. 

We were soaked and as much fun as Kaden said he had, he did not want to go again, or "Maybe at the end of the day, Mom." Either way, was proud of our big guy and so was his dad, who had found a few other family members by the time we got back. I mean, how cute are these two? They have matching shirts and sandals on...

Now that we were all together we decided a train ride was in order and Logan led the way, with a little help from his Aunt Jennifer. 

After lunch we split up. The big kids, plus Zack and I, headed out to do the roller coasters while the rest of the gang took the littles to the playground area. Not sure who had more fun by the looks of the pictures...I mean my brother's face is priceless!!

We finally met back up and I was a little bummed that I missed out on the Lost River and although they all agreed to go again, the line was forever long and the kids were losing steam so we charged ahead and did something we could all enjoy. A little friendly shoot out.

& we were lucky enough to get to go twice in a row because the operator forgot to stop our boats. Although, the second time around the Siebert boat started to sink and fill up with water, it was very amusing and no one was ever in any danger. 

Following that ride we felt that we were at a good stopping point & headed out but not before one last picture. A happy one too. Kaden wasn't feeling pictures by this time...oh well, the rest of the day he had a smile plastered on his face. 

The kids were pooped but still wanted to go swimming when we got home and I didn't have the heart to say no so we loaded them up and headed out to the pool. Thankfully Leah and Blake were there and in the water, a little chilly for this momma to have to get in. 

And that was it. We woke up the morning, packed up the cars and we all headed in different directions home. Jennifer back to Arkansas, Mom, Dad, Zack and Lindsey to Carthage and then Justin and I to Kansas City. We actually had a few extra guests--Leah was coming to stay with us for a few weeks and Brett and his girlfriend were celebrating an anniversary with a trip to Top Golf so they were following us too.

Speaking of Brett's girlfriend. He isn't the only one that is smitten with her. Logan has quite the crush on Anne. & why wouldn't he, she is just a sweetheart and so very good for my nephew. 

So that was #Hartleypalooza16. It was such a wonderful time to be with everyone under one roof with no outside agendas in the way. I think Mom and Dad should think about doing this on a yearly basis---it's about creating memories right?!?!

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