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Beach or Branson?

In the end, it was neither. We spent two days in St. Louis, and then we all went home to Mom and Dad’s where we really wanted to be anyway.

It was a super fun family reunion, and it was extra-exciting because it was the first time since 2014 that our entire family was together.

Our party of 22 partied hard last week, and we want to tell you all about it!

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Sunday

Most of the family arrived by Sunday. After church, we had a relaxing afternoon at one of our favorite spots in Columbia, Missouri: Shelter Gardens. It was so fun to visit this beautiful 5-acre garden and catch up with each other.

Monday

We headed to St. Louis Monday morning and officially kicked off our family reunion at the St. Louis Zoo.

We have so many memories coming to this zoo!

2001

2009

2011

2011

This zoo is massive, the animal exhibits are gorgeous, and the best part-has free admission! Don’t worry, the zoo still makes money by charging $4 for a bottle of water and selling tickets for the really cool train.

It was fun seeing so many animals up close! We were also happy that many exhibits were inside so we could occasionally cool off.

We counted heads every few minutes to make sure we had all the kids with us and of course, to capture as many moments as possible! But even though our group was slow, we still managed to see most of the zoo in the several hours that we spent there.

The kids enjoyed the butterfly house the most that day.

The adults enjoyed the freezing Penguin house and standing near the giant fan misters stationed around the zoo.

Hunger and fatigue struck, and we decided to call it a day and headed to downtown St. Louis. Dad was really excited to take us to the rental he booked for us for the night: a Harry Potter-themed apartment!

We loved everything about this place. The layout, decorations, amenities. It was so perfect for our family.

Read our full review and see pictures of the awesome rental here!

Across the hallway is a Star Wars-themed apartment owned by the same person, but it had an open layout that wouldn’t have worked as well for our particular group. It still looked like an amazing place to stay, and Dad said he would rent both places if we chose to go to St. Louis again.

The apartment’s location was amazing- right in downtown St. Louis, just minutes from the Gateway Arch and the City Museum. We bought about 30 million pizzas from the nearby Papa John’s and grabbed a few last-minute things from Schnuck’s, both within a short walking distance.

The rest of the day was really relaxing. We enjoyed the pizza and ice cream together in the dining area. The kitchen had an Alexa on the counter, and we put it to good use by playing Harry Potter music and Abbott and Costello.

Once the kids were asleep, we played Oh, Snap! and Quippage, Fibbage, and Earwax on Jackbox.tv.

Tuesday

Day 2 started off right- we ate cereal and ice cream for breakfast.

We spent most of the day at The Magic House. That place is packed full of science and other fun learning activities for kids.

Even the adults had a blast here!

The only bummer was that everyone got really tired before we finished everything. There’s so much to do at the Magic House, and so much to say about it! Click here to read more about what we did at the Magic House and see more of the activities!

Once we arrived to our parent’s house a few hours later, everyone got settled in and we had Wendy’s for dinner.

That evening, we played the card game Canadian Salad and munched on Mom’s famous chocolate chip cookies.

Wednesday

Wednesday was Independence Day! The 4th of July has always been a fun, memorable day in our family, and this one did not disappoint.

Maegan’s boys started the day with long morning bike ride.

The temperature rose quickly, so we hit the water first.

We played in the pool and with our nieces and nephews for a couple of hours before Dad got out the hydro-rocket. Then we put a kiddie pool in the middle of the yard for a massive water balloon war. We loved the Bunch O Balloons because it only took a few minutes to fill up hundreds of them.

After getting cleaned up, MaLee put her artistic skills to work and face-painted patriotic designs on many of our family members.

She also passed on the fairy costumes from the Fairy Dance Party to our little nieces, much to their delight.

We had a full-on party in our front yard that evening: lighting fireworks, playing frisbee, singing patriotic songs, and line-dancing in the yard.

Dad fired up his new grill and we enjoyed hot dogs, brats, and burgers. It was so fun to be together for the special holiday.

Happy Birthday, America!

Thursday

Madison is getting married in just over a month, so we threw her a bridal shower while we were all together!

We’ll tell you all about the adorable garden-themed decorations & activities and the delicious food soon!

It was tempting to hang out all day with just our mom and sisters, but it was important to make sure the boys and kids hadn’t burned the house down while we were gone.

Some of the extra milk from the shower spilled while we were driving home. There are a lot of bad smells in the world, but curdling milk in the back of a hot car rivals as one of the worst.

Now when we say hot, we mean HOT. It was nearly 100 degrees that day, with a real feel of 106. Everyone was feeling lethargic and being outside was a no-go, so we chatted in the AC and took turns napping wherever we were. Makayla also surprised the sisters with Cricut machines that she had purchased at a ridiculous discount. And we were ridiculously excited.

Hot days call for indoor activities!

After the kids were in bed for the evening, we bought Andy’s Frozen Custard (because if we didn’t, did we really go home?) and enjoyed it while watching A Quiet Place.

Friday

Half of the group left early in the morning to play frisbee golf at a nearby park, and the rest slept in and hung out at the house.

After everyone came home and cleaned up, we went to El Maguey, our favorite Mexican restaurant in CoMo. It was the perfect last outing on our trip.

We spent the rest of the day playing Pie Face, swimming, water guns, face painting, and devouring milkshakes.

Pie Face!

Water gun fight preparations

Saturday

This was our least favorite day, because it was departure day for most of the family members. Mom was really sweet and rushed to bake her cookies to send off with us.

It was a chaotic, hot, busy, wonderful week. We cannot wait to get together again for Madison’s wedding!!

-This Blue Dress Sisters

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