happy place

When I was 18 months old, my parents decided to take a little vacation down to Branson, MO.  What should have been an easy, non-eventful trip turned into a traumatic experience for my parents.  Our car (or was it the other family we went with?) overheated, my brother got car sick and threw up all over the other family’s brand new van, and I had a parasite that caused [and I quote] “poop to shoot out the sides” of my diaper.  My dad has yet to return to Branson to this day, 20-something years later.  (Matt + I took my mom back for the first time a few years ago – it was a much better experience for her.)

Matt’s family is the complete opposite.  Matt’s first trip to Branson happened when he was just a year old.  He has made a trip down to Branson at least once a year since.  It’s his home away from home, the place where I’m sure we will retire one day.  And not only is he in love with Branson, he got me hooked on it too.  And he is determined to get our 5 month old daughter to love it just as much as he does at a very young age.


Saturday morning, we decided to make the 4 hour journey down to southwest Missouri with one place in mind:  Silver Dollar City.  Matt isn’t in love with Branson per se.  He is OBSESSED with Silver Dollar City, the reason for the multiple trips down to Branson each year.  No trip is complete without several hours spent wandering the family-friendly theme park.  We were both beyond excited to bring MacKenna there this weekend and spent the majority of our weekend walking and exploring SDC.


It’s much different with a baby in tow.  From the tram ride in (Matt ended up pulling some muscles in his back getting off the tram while carrying the carseat) to avoiding every single set of stairs because of the stroller to bonding with the fellow mom’s while feeding MacKenna in the nursing station.  And while we know MacKenna isn’t going to remember a single thing about this trip (just like I don’t remember our trip from hell 20-something years ago), it was still fun to experience our favorite place with her.







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Of course, no trip to Branson is complete (for me, at least) without a trip to Andy’s Frozen Custard.  I went with the Thin Mint Concrete, while Matt had the Cookie Casanova (vanilla custard topped with  chocolate chip cookies, caramel, and almonds).


I loved that my concrete was just Andy’s delicious vanilla custard with crushed Thin Mint cookies mixed in – no extra mint or chocolate flavor added to it.  And there were some very large chunks of Thin Mints mixed in.  I loved it, as usual!  Matt’s was also delicious – the chocolate chip cookies were warm, soft, and gooey and paired perfectly with the vanilla custard.


We can’t wait for future trips to our “happy place” with MacKenna!  We just know she is going to love it as much as we do!


What is your “happy place”?  Is there someplace you visit almost every single year?

  • What a lovely place! It looks like you all had a great time. My happy place is Ocean City at the Jersey Shore. We’ve taken a family vacation there every summer since I was a baby and that place truly has my heart.

    Side note: love your hairstyle! 🙂
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    • Kristen

      Thanks! My family goes to Gulf Shores, AL almost every summer. I love it there and is definitely a happy place for me (not so much for Matt).

  • So glad your family trip was more pleasant than your first one! I think our family’s happy place is in the Caribbean… sailing and snorkling… what’s not to love?!
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    • Kristen

      Oh, how I wish I could be in the Caribbean right now! I love the beach!

  • Mary Kratochvil

    Kristen, We love Branson also. We try to make one trip each year there in the fall. Being old people, we love the shows and the restaurants.

    • Kristen

      Ha! I don’t think the shows and restaurants make you old! We are planning on going to the Titanic sometime this year, otherwise we still haven’t done a show. We want to do the Branson Belle when MacKenna is a little older.

  • Rim

    Istanbul turkey !!! It’s very far away for a yearly trip bit we’ve been there 3 times already n 7 yrs n we are
    Planning to take our daughter when she’s 8 months old ( I work for an airline so we pay peanuts for tickets) …

    • Kristen

      How cool! Sounds like a great deal!

  • How special you got to show her your special place! We love Palm Desert as a family and that is our “happy” place which we are experiencing right now with our daughter for a week with my parents! My special place is the San Juan Islands in Washington state, my heart is there :). Jeff’s special place is Lake Chelan in Washington. We are making trips to both this summer to show the little one! It is so important to make the effort to get there every year. So glad you got to visit yours!! Great photos!
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    • Kristen

      Thanks! Your happy places sound nice! Neither of us have ever been to Washington state before – I definitely want to make a trip out that way sometime!