Branson Vacation–Days 5 and 6

On Monday we rented a boat and went on the lake.  We mostly did tubing and swimming off the boat, but we also did some driving around.

It was fun.  All three of us older children got sunburned.  My burns are feeling better, for the most part.  As soon as we arrived home on Tuesday, I grabbed the jug of white vinegar and commenced splashing my various burned limbs (actually all of them) with it (excluding my head).  I did this outside, so I wouldn’t have a mess to clean up.  I then went back inside, saw my dad, and threw my arms apart.

“Want a vinegar hug?” I asked.

It turned out he didn’t.  I’m not all that surprised. 🙂

So back to Monday and boating.  Drake and I were the first two to go tubing.  As we were out there waiting for the boat to get going, I was imploring my brother not to flip the tube (I was getting my usual jitters).

“Don’t flip this thing or I will disown you and never speak to you again!”  I informed him in a panicked voice.

He responded, “How do you disown somebody?”

He’s probably pretty used to this.

And he didn’t flip the tube.  In fact, he did all he could not to flip the thing, even when I was unknowingly working against him.  And here I was next to him, screaming so loud that when we were done, he said he couldn’t hear out of his right ear (the one I was closest to).  What a great brother.

(By the way, I like screaming while riding on various things.  It’s rather fun.  I’m not sure why.)

I enjoyed the boating.

When we got back to the condo we had dinner, and several of us still felt the rocking motion during dinner.

The next day we headed home.  On the way home we stopped at a gas station, and that’s when I spotted and purchased the dark chocolate mocha.  It was gooooood. 🙂

So that was our vacation, in a nutshell.  It was wonderful!


Sunday evening – playing “Dicecapades”


Daddy and Meiling drawing


Some of the dice


Monday – on the boat




Noah and Meiling


Meiling and Daddy driving the boat – Meiling loves to do this




Noah tubing


Dad hot doggin’


Meiling relaxing (she wanted to take a nap and told me that she should have brought her blankie)




My lens cap






Dad and Drake jumping together








Mom tubing


The view I had of Drake for quite a bit of the day


Drake doing the pencil




Mom found this soda at Kroger not too long ago and was saving it for some special time.  It was good!




Dad jumping




Tuesday, on the way home – my amazing dark chocolate mocha!

Branson Vacation – Days 2 through 4

The next day we headed back to Silver Dollar City.  It turned out to be a great day – not too hot and not too crowded.  Dad, Drake, Meiling, and Noah rode some rides while Mom and I watched and took pictures.  At about 2 we watched the show “Luma,” which was pretty good.  After lunch, we split up – Dad took all of the children to tour Marvel Cave while Mom went to the shops.

The cave was awesome!  I am so glad we went.  It was definitely different from my last caving experience, which was in a much smaller cave without lights or walkways.  Marvel cave had walkways, stairs, lights, and a train to take you the rest of the way out, and it was quite large.

On Saturday morning and early afternoon, Mom and I went shopping while the boys went swimming.  We picked out some games, since we had forgotten to bring any with.  The two we purchased are “Angry Birds:  On Thin Ice” and “Dicecapades.”  I really liked the second game, and the Angry Birds game was fun too.

After coming home from shopping, we just chilled, or as my brother would put it, we were chillaxing. 

Sunday wasn’t all that exciting, either.  We went to church, ate lunch, and I had a nap, as well as a most of my family.  We played Dicecapades in the evening.

I didn’t mention in my last post, but we did some grocery shopping after going to Silver Dollar City on Thursday.  This wouldn’t be exciting except for one little thing – WE GOT POP-TARTS!  I love Pop-Tarts.  I know, I know.  I try to eat healthy, and I love Pop-Tarts.  But.  We were on vacation.  And they were SO good.  So imagine, if you will, me eating at least one each morning after breakfast.  Mmmmm…

Be forewarned: there are lots of pictures in this post.  So many that I am postponing the Dicecapades pictures until tomorrow.


Friday – Meiling and Drake being silly


The view from our condo’s balcony






At Silver Dollar City – pretty flowers


Riding the swings




More pretty flowers


There are all kinds of interesting signs


Still more pretty flowers


While everybody else was in line for a ride, I had some fun with Mom and Drake


Lovely fountain






Drake has those toe shoes (although you can see that in the photo so this caption is totally unnecessary)






Dad, Meiling, and Noah on a roller coaster


Look!  Even more pretty flowers!


On the teacup ride


An interesting brick pattern on the ground




We stepped into one of the shops, and this potter was making pie plates.  It reminded me of Isaiah 64:8 –

“But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
we are the clay, and you are our
we are all the work of your hand.”


Meiling being funny while we waited for lunch


Marvel Cave


A hole in the roof of the cave, looking to the ceiling






Looking back up (these are not the greatest pictures)


Isn’t God’s creation amazing?  The photos can’t and don’t do the real thing justice.






This photo is so pink because the waterfall was lit  🙂




While we were waiting for the train to start (still in the cave), I started getting a little panicky.  Meiling solved the problem by saying, ”Look at me!  I’ll just make funny faces!”


After the cave, we met back up with Mom.  Dad and Noah went on another roller coaster…


…while we road the train (a different train than the one that is in the cave)


Saturday, on a walk – my first successful sunset!


Playing at the playground


My wonderful Drake


Down a gravel road to the lake – this reminded us of walking down our old county road to the creek!


My little peanut butter throwing rocks








I love the reflection


Walking back to the condo

Branson Vacation – Day 1

Our trip started last Thursday, when we left for Branson in the morning.  Our first stop was a surprise from Daddy – he took us to a bakery on our way out of town to get some donuts for the road.  I chose a caramel frosted cinnamon roll – it was pretty good.

We arrived at our condo at about 4:30 in the afternoon.  After unloading the van, we decided to go to Silver Dollar City for the rest of the day and go again the next day (if you go and purchase tickets at Silver Dollar City after three o’clock, you can go the next consecutive day that they are open with the same ticket).

Dad and Noah were looking forward to riding some roller coasters.  As soon as we got there, we made a beeline for a roller coaster.  While Dad, Noah, and Drake rode it, Mom and I took Meiling to ride the carousel.  After the boys were done with their roller coaster, Drake joined us while Dad and Noah went on some more roller coasters.

I will just put this out in the open now:  I don’t ride many amusement park rides, so I only went on a few while we were there.  I still had plenty of fun.  I loved it!

After the rest of the park was closed, there is one last show that we saw.  We headed back to the condo once that was finished, and did some nibbling before we all went to bed.


The bakery we stopped at


Flaky goodness


Sometimes temptation comes as a pastry, covered with sprinkles…


…and sometimes it looks like little brown mounds in little white paper cups!


The waterwheel at Silver Dollar City


My family


I LOVE lemonade


I thought this looked neat


Meiling on the carousel


Self portrait 🙂




“The Flooded Mine” ride – this one was a favorite



On the elephant ride


Classic Drake [Drake said to label this “Scared, even on the elephant ride.”]



Meiling, watching the show


Dad and Noah with their matching shirts!

Home Again, Home Again

Well, we just returned home today from a lovely trip to Branson, MO.  I have lots of photos to share, and will probably post them in several posts – I took a lot. 🙂

These past few weeks have been very busy – that’s why it has been relatively quiet around here.  I haven’t really posted much more than animal pictures.  That’s about to change.

We went to the CHEF conference last week.  It was great.  I met some wonderful people and heard some great talks.  Two days after the conference, we drove down to Branson, and have had a lovely time relaxing, playing games, going to Silver Dollar City, boating, and more.  You’ll hear more about it later.

Here are some pictures – I’ll be posting more soon.  It’s just getting late and I am tired and I should be thinking about bed. 🙂


Before we left, we had some of these beauties

While we were gone we:


I ate one of these


Visited this place


Rode some rides


Acted cool


Toured a cave


Were cute


Saw some lovely views


Played some games


Went boating


Splashed alot


Did plenty of tubing


And I drank one of these deliciousnesses – it was AMAZING!  Do you see – it’s dark chocolate mocha!!!!

Ain’t She Just Adorable?

I love my little puppy lots.  Lots and lots.  I know she has been all over this blog recently, but she was being super cute on my bed again today, so I had to take her picture.  And of course I have to post her pictures here. 🙂


She was resting like this and I thought it was oh-so-cute.  I only got a few shots before she thought she heard something outside and moved.


“Do I hear something?”


“Do I?”


“Why are you taking so many pictures?”


“Is that somebody at the door?  I don’t think so.”


“Maybe someone’s outside.”


“Fine. I’ll just to back to sleep.”


What a cute little nose!


I left the room and when I came back a bit later, this is what I got.

Dogs and Cats

Here are some photos I took of my dog and our cats and kittens today.

First up is Lucy.  After she went out and played with some of my siblings in the rain, she was left in our mudroom to dry off.  (Although I do like to dance in the rain, I opted out of it this time to take a bath inside. :))  Well, she came back inside, still wet, and proceeded to sleep on my unmade bed.  When I went in my room to make the bed, there was my wet little puppy, all curled up on the bed, unwilling to move.  I took her picture before I made her move. 🙂




Don’t you see I’m sleeping?


So what if I’m wet or the bed isn’t made?



Next are the kittens.  We currently have 2 litters of kittens on and around our deck, with their two mommas.  So, as you can imagine, at various times throughout the day,  the mommas nurse the kittens.  Now there is no sorting of the kittens.  The kittens just go to whoever they want?  is closest?  I don’t quite get their logic.

Elsie (the momma in the picture) is our momma kitty, and is the mom of the other 3 cats we have.  She is also the mother of a litter of 5 this Spring.  Her daughter, Satin (not pictured), had 7, of which 6 survived.

I saw this kitten pile earlier and had to take a picture before I opened the door and disturbed them.


The kitten pile – some sleeping and some nursing




“I’ve got to move”


Mom (and Grandma) Elsie checking it out – she is mom to the bigger kittens and grandma to the smaller ones

Fun at the Farm

Yesterday I went to a friend’s farm to learn how to make soap.  Well, that was the intended purpose.  And we did make soap.  But we did plenty of other things.  🙂

I got there at about 8:45 a.m., just a little late for goat milking.  I love goats.  I have wanted goats for awhile.  I love milking, but I have never milked a cow.  Just a goat.  I also like goats because they are smaller.  And their milk tastes fine if you handle it properly.  So I got to milk a goat for a little bit.  Mrs. O. also had some kids, and they were very adorable.  Two were pretty young, so they are little and very soft.  Another kid is being bottle fed, so it follows Mrs. O. around like Mrs. O. is her mother.  The kid’s name is Lindy.  She is also very cute.  I stood with the goats and pet them as they all gathered around me.  The two youngest kids nibbled at my skirt.  I also went up into the hayloft.  What is so special about the hayloft?  I could see Mrs. O. and the goats down below me while I swept up the stray bits of hay.

After the milking, we went in to make soap.  First we had to find all Mrs. O.’s soap making supplies, as she had them in different places.  When we had the buckets of oil out, we ran into a minor dilemma.  One bucket of oil wasn’t labeled, and another was labeled as two different things.  We spent some time examining the oils and trying to determine what they were.  This is important, because when you make soap, you have to use a specific amount of lye for each different type of oil.  If we didn’t figure the oils out, the soap wouldn’t work.  Just as we decided which oil was which, I went back to get another bucket of the coconut oil to see what it looked like.  Thankfully I did, because it turned out that what we thought was palm kernel oil was actually coconut, and vice versa.

Making the soap was actually not hard at all.  Most of the time was spent getting the oils and lye to cool to the proper temperature.  After that it didn’t take long.  We decided to scent it peach gardenia , and color the soaps pink.  Mrs. O. cut the bars today, and said they are lovely.  I can’t wait to make more.

Once the soap was in the mold, we cleaned up, then ate lunch.  After lunch we walked down to The Church.

The Church is an old country church just down the road from their home.  It is so close, you can see it from their house.  There aren’t any services there anymore, except for a memorial service there once a year.  Mrs. O. said that there hasn’t been a regular service for about 50 years.

Around The Church is an old cemetery.  We spent some time walking around in the cemetery on the right side of The Church, where the older gravestones are.  The oldest stone that we saw was dated 1871.  There were a few that only had initials on them, and we were guessing that those could be even older.

Then we went inside.  The pews are still there, and there is a big table made out of some boards set atop some pews for when they have a potluck.  There are two old pianos up in front, and I was able to play one.  It was out of tune and the keys stuck a little, but it was still wonderful.

After we came back, we (Mrs. O., Mrs. O.’s daughter Holly, and I) went for a ride around their property.  We were looking for a calf that was born a few days ago, but we weren’t able to find it.  We got to see anther calf, though, and the goats that they have out grazing in the field, and the sheep.  I shot a few pictures.

After our ride, we made some mocha milkshakes and sat around and talked.  Soon it was time for dinner, and I went home after the evening milking.

It was so fun.  Thank you so much for having me out,  Mrs. O. and Holly!  I can’t wait until we do it again!


Mrs. O. …


…making the lye mixture


The oils


Stirring the melted oils – Those are all the soap pictures that I took.  I will post more when she gives me the soap


Going to The Church – the dogs came with us


The Church


The front door


The graveyard on the left




Lots of old gravestones




These only had initials on them






Inside The Church – the pianos are one behind the other


The pews


The piano I couldn’t play




Up above, where you would usually put your music


Mrs. O. put this Bible there.  She said that she thought it needed to be there, just in case.


The piano I played






The ceiling – just thought you would like to see it


Up front


Walking out of The Church


Macy!  Meiling loves this dog. 🙂


The door – they tie it shut so it won’t blow open


There is a board of directors that still takes care of the building.  It is kept in great shape.


A barn across the way


And some trees 🙂


You have to love those gravel roads




Beautiful fields








The cows


The sweet calf




They have one tan sheep, for color


The goats that they have out for grazing (these are not the milk goats) coming to meet us


While we were leaving, the sun was setting


Some More Cooking

Today I tried an Everyday Food recipe for Slow-Cooker Sausage Lasagna.  Basically, it was a meat/tomato mixture layered with cheese and pasta in a slow cooker, then set on low for a few hours.  It was pretty easy, it turned out well, and everybody liked it.  Next time I will probably throw in some spinach leaves some more canned tomatoes, but that would have to be my only adjustment.

I also made a single serving size of fresh-squeezed lemonade.  I do this when a sweet drink craving hits, and I really don’t want to (or can’t) make a large batch of lemonade.  I just squeeze a lemon, see how much juice I get, and add the rest of the ingredients accordingly.  Today’s batch looked something like this:

Scant 1/4 c. sugar (I used evaporated cane juice), to taste
1/2 c. warm water (for dissolving the sugar)
1/4 c. fresh-squeezed lemon juice (from one lemon)
1 c. cold water

Combine the first two ingredients, then stir until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the last two ingredients.  Enjoy on the front porch, sitting in the white rocking chairs.

While I was enjoying my lemonade on the porch, Meiling came up.  As the cows were across the street for us, I explained to her the use of the “earrings” they had.  She had spotted them, and wasn’t sure why all the cows had “earrings.”

Well, that about covers today.  I am so excited – on Thursday I am going to a friend’s home to make soap! Yay!!!!! I am so excited! (You can tell that by all the exclamation points, can’t you?)  I have been wanting to learn how to make soap for awhile.  Now I will know how and will hopefully be able to make plenty of fun soaps at home.  I can’t wait!  Oh, I am planning to get to her house a little early so I can help milk her goats.  I love milking goats.

I will possibly post some pictures of that day, but will definitely post photos of the soap.  (I will be very excited.)


Missouri State Convention

Today my dad and I went down to Springfield, Mo, to attend the Missouri Republican State Convention.  Since we had to be there at a certain time for Dad to get his credentials (he was an alternate delegate), we had to leave here at 4:30 a.m.  Now for those of you who know me, I am not an early morning person, but I still was up in time to go.

We arrived in Springfield at about 8:30, which was in time to get Daddy registered.  We didn’t know that I had to register as a guest, and when I went over to register, it turned out that more people had showed up than was planned, and we weren’t sure that I would be able to get in as a guest.  While I was waiting to find out, I was able to meet some sweet people, which was great.  After they got all the delegates seated, there was enough room for me to go in.  It was very interesting to watch all the proceedings.  At one point in the meeting, they were waiting for the Nominating Committee to get the proposed slates ready, and since it was taking longer than planned, the Chairman proposed that they skip ahead in the agenda and come back to this issue later.  Well, that didn’t pass, and then somebody put up a motion to adjourn for lunch (the meeting had been delayed in starting, and they hadn’t started until 12:00, when they were supposed to convene at 10:00, and have lunch at 12:00).  There was a half hour spent in discussing the proposed motion for adjourning for lunch, a vote on the motion to amend the motion (dealing with how long the break should be), and then when the final vote was taken, it was decided not to adjourn for lunch.  All these proceedings took a half hour.  Very interesting to watch.  By that time, the Nominating Committee had the slates in order, so the meeting then continued as originally planned. 🙂

After they voted on the slates (the Show Me Unity slate won, which had the delegates going to Romney and Santorum), Dad and I headed home, since we still had a bit of a drive.

Once we crossed the Missouri River, Dad pulled over to look at an alternate route.  While he was investigating said route, I jumped out of the car to take some photos.  After we got going again, I continued shooting photos out of the window.  There is a large group of photos at the end of this post (the majority of the photos) that are somewhat blurry.  They are the ones I shot out of the window flying down the highway.  They are not particularly good, but they were fun to take. 🙂

It was a full day, but very fun.  Here is a link to a report on the Convention.  Thank you so much for taking me with you, Dad!  I am so glad I got to go!


Walking to the building where the Convention was held – see that interesting building in the top left hand corner?


Probably my favorite shot from the convention


I can’t remember who this man is 😦


This is the Chairman


On the way home – while Dad was looking at the other way home


The farm field




A different view of the farm field – I didn’t notice that I was so tipped while taking these two photos.  Which one do you like better – one…


…or two?  They are very similar, but there is a bit of difference in the focusing




A hay bale – I love those things








A field not too far from home