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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Visiting Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson, Missouri with Kids

Disclosure: I received press passes to visit this location. No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own. 

We recently had the opportunity to visit Branson as a family, and near the top of our list for things to do was to visit the Aquarium at the Boardwalk, an oceanic walk-through adventure featuring 400.000 gallons of salt water, more than 7,200 live sea animals, and countless fun photo opportunities.

The visit began by staring in awe at the 55 foot sculpture of "Aquarius the Octopus" that wraps around the front of the building! It is designed to reflect its surroundings - the day we went, it was cloudy and rainy, which made the whole sculpture a shiny silver color! 

We were delighted to head inside and begin exploring the sea creatures. We have been to quite a few aquariums, but this was the first time we have ever seen a visual display of shark eggs with babies inside them! This was definitely a highlight for our whole family. We also really enjoyed seeing seahorses, pufferfish, blacktip sharks, and fish that seemed to glow in the dark.

A fun surprise was the 5D adventure ride near the beginning of the attraction - I was not aware prior to arriving that this was part of the aquarium! It definitely added to the adventure spirit of our visit to feel like we were truly whisked away on an ocean journey.

My daughter loved the carousel and mermaid photo locations, and both of my kids thought that the crawl-through tunnels and special bubble viewing areas were the best. We also have to highly recommend the Kelp Climber in the Kelp Forest section - the kids didn't want to leave! 

Near the end of the experience, we were given a chance to touch stingrays, sharks, horseshoe crabs, sea anemones, and sea stars. Being able to interact with ocean creatures in this way in the middle of the USA was a special treat. 

If you're planning a trip to Branson, check out to learn more about this fun aquarium and purchase tickets.

Thank you to Aquarium at the Boardwalk for providing our tickets and family memories! All opinions expressed are my own. 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Sea Creatures...We're On Our Way!

 Disclosure: I received press passes to visit this location. No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own. 

Sea creatures…yes please.

We’re longtime fans of all the swimming creatures in the seas and oceans (remember our Octonauts party?), and there’s never a good reason to miss out on an opportunity to see them in action. We were invited to visit the new Aquarium at the Boardwalk in Branson, Missouri - and we can’t wait to tell you all about it after we’ve been! 

Here’s what we’ve heard about the new aquarium: 

Be thrilled and mesmerized by an undersea journey that takes you through worlds teeming with colorful fish, sharks, stingrays, seahorses, and so much more. Along the way, you'll be delighted by playful photo ops, activities, and adventures including exploring a jelly infinity room, climbing through a kelp forest, and petting a shark. From the moment you splash below the surface on an exciting Submarine Adventure to your final glorious view of the Coral Reef, you'll feel like a part of the ocean life all around you. You'll leave enchanted with a new appreciation for what we can do together to keep our oceans thriving.

What else is cool about Aquarium at the Boardwalk? Check out these fun facts:

* An impressive 55-foot-tall, 34-ton stainless steel sculpture of a Great Pacific Octopus greets you when you arrive at the Aquarium. It was designed to reflect its surroundings, mimicking how a real Great Pacific Octopus is able to camouflage itself in its environment.

* More than 7,200 individual sea animals and 250 species make the aquarium their home.

* A Trompe L'oeil (trick-of-eye) mural was created for the aquarium by world-renowned artist John Pugh. Check it out on the exterior wall of the Aquarium that faces Glory Road.

* Inside the Aquarium's Bloom Room, you'll experience an immersive experience in which mirrors give the illusion that fish are swimming around you in every direction.

* Original music for each of the worlds in the Aquarium was created by Emmy-nominated composer Jay Flood and makes each zone an even more unique experience!

* Dozens of seahorses live at the Mermaid Palace. The aquarium has a much larger collection of seahorses than nearly all other aquariums!

If you're planning a trip to Branson, check out to learn more about this fun aquarium and purchase tickets.

Thank you to Aquarium at the Boardwalk for providing our tickets and family memories! All opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Around the World in One Summer: Worlds of Fun is OPEN AGAIN!

Disclosure: I received press passes to attend this event. No other compensation was received and all opinions expressed are my own. 

I have lived in Kansas City my whole life, but I've only been to Worlds of Fun a handful of times and surprisingly - never with my kids! When I heard that Worlds of Fun and Oceans of Fun were reopening this summer, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to remedy that situation. My kids, of course, were thrilled to check it out! 

We haven't been to an amusement park in a long time and I wasn't sure what to expect, given how things have changed drastically everywhere due to Covid. Good news: we felt safe and easily able to enjoy our experience the whole day. 

Before we headed to the park, I downloaded the Worlds of Fun app on my phone. This made our whole day so much easier! Worlds of Fun has switched to a cashless system inside their parks, and the app allowed me to easily stash my park tickets, meal deal tickets, and drink tickets all in one place. We took advantage of the souvenir drink bottles - refills were free all day during our visit, and when we go back again, they will cost just $1 each (tax included)! 

My kids are 8 and 10 years old. Their favorite part of the park was definitely Camp Snoopy! Even though many of the rides are aimed at the very youngest park guests, there was still an abundance of options that my kids enjoyed (and begged to ride repeatedly). Our very favorites were Lucy's Tugboat, the Kite-Eating Tree, and Sally's Swing. I enjoyed the nostalgia that the Peanuts Gang created, and thought the whole Camp Snoopy area was very well-designed. There was just one entrance/exit into this zone, so I wasn't concerned about watching multiple entry points to keep an eye on my kids. 

The day we visited was VERY warm, but the staff kept kids smiling even while waiting for rides. We only covered a small amount of the 235 acre park during our afternoon visit, and we're thinking that a season pass may be in order for our family! We want to have time to go back and explore many, many more times. I'm not sure anyone could get through every single activity in one day....the park has over one hundred rides, water slides, and live shows - plus seven world-class roller coasters! It is called WORLDS of Fun after all, and no one has ever made it around the whole world in just one day! 

We are really thrilled to see this Kansas City landmark back in operation again after the uncertainty that Covid-19 has caused for the entertainment industry as a whole, and we can't wait until things get even more "back to normal." Our family was delighted with our Worlds of Fun adventure, and we can't wait to go back this year or next for future special events like Halloween Haunt and WinterFest! 

Want to go check out Worlds of Fun, too? The very best place to buy tickets is at! Make sure you check the website and social media pages for the latest operating calendar updates. 

Thank you to Worlds of Fun for providing our tickets, meals+drinks, and family memories! All opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Post-Quarantine Shopping? Support Independent Artists and #ShopRedBubble!

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Sivan Social. All comments and opinions are my own.

If there's one thing an ongoing pandemic has taught me, it's to stop taking things for granted and to look for silver linings through hardship. Many people turned to online shopping during the pandemic - but for me, part of the fun of shopping is being able to make a conscious choice about where my money is being invested. I love finding hidden gems in the local business community and supporting them whenever possible! As a small business owner myself, I can't imagine doing anything else. So where can you find a silver lining in a pandemic-shopping world where all the local shops are closed? 

At the beginning of the 2020 quarantine, I was looking for face masks that would fit my personality as a theater teacher. I have a vintage/eclectic sense of style and that is not something that is always readily available in a big box store! So I googled "Broadway masks" and stumbled across a wide variety of options in a hidden gem of an online store - RedBubble.

Not familiar with RedBubble? It's a little corner of the internet where over 700,000 independent artists and designers have joined together to share their passions with the world. The company, founded in 2006, is located in Melbourne, Australia - but artists around the globe use the platform to gain exposure and offer their creations for sale.

My mask-searching was actually not my first experience with RedBubble - I have purchased several items from them over the past few years, including my very beloved stained glass window phone case. This case has held up to my incessant mistreatment of my phone (I drop it routinely) for years now! I wasn't planning to buy a new phone case, but when I saw this one, it was instant love. 

RedBubble is a fantastic place to shop since they are able to offer a variety of extremely unique items. Hundreds of designs can be printed onto just about any product that you could dream up - t-shirts, notebooks, stickers, laptop cases, clocks, name it, they've probably got it! I have ordered from RedBubble multiple times in the past and have always been pleased with the quality of their items. I was so thrilled to pick out a few favorite things to share!

I've been obsessed with stickers since I was a child, so I gravitated toward the selection of stickers very quickly! A few favorites that I snagged include this plant sticker, an "I can't - I have rehearsal" sticker (#dramateacherlife), and this absolutely adorable bike sticker. Now if only I could find that purple bike cruiser in real life and keep it in my garage! I also could not resist this Together in Paris sticker, and plan to use it to continue to spread love for the greatest movie of all time. is giving away six $50 e-gift codes and one $100 e-gift code to spend at Redbubble! Contest is open now through May 20, so get your entries in fast! And let me know what you find when you #ShopRedBubble!

Win a $50 or $100 e-gift code from Redbubble!

Thank you to Sivan Social for sponsoring this post. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Dear Eight-Year-Old Me #AmericanGirlMemories

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Sivan Social. All comments and opinions are my own. 

Dear eight-year-old Julie,

Hey, it's me. I's YOU...twenty-some years in the future.  

I know that you've recently spent hours and hours poring over that mail order catalogue from Pleasant Company, featuring all those really amazing American Girl dolls. You know how you think you won't make it through another day unless you receive that magical "Molly" doll for your upcoming ninth birthday? I don't want to give anything away (so watch out because there are some major spoilers below), but I can't help it - I just have a feeling that you might want the inside scoop on how things are going to turn out. 

Sure enough, that beautiful doll is going to find its way into your arms when you turn nine. #BestBirthdayEver, right?! She's going to become the best friend you can imagine! You're going to bring her with you everywhere. You might have a panic attack when she's loved so well that her leg falls off - but don't worry! After a quick trip to the American Girl hospital, she'll be back with a shiny balloon and your adventures can continue. 

A few years after you turn nine, you're going to be absolutely thrilled to receive a Samantha doll, as well. She may not go on quite as many adventures with you as Molly did, but you're still going to love both of them with all your heart. You'll keep them long past childhood because you can't imagine giving them away. Besides...what if you have a daughter someday? 

But, that's a long way off. Between now and then, you'll continue channeling your love for American Girl by recommending the books wholeheartedly to every child who you encounter when you're working as a librarian. You'll be the founder of an "American Girl Book Club" and bring kids together routinely to share their thoughts about each of the different characters. Over time, you'll help many, many students learn how to use old-time skills to make crafts and keepsakes inspired by these characters. You'll host more American Girl themed tea parties than you can remember, and you'll smile every single time a child learns something through the eyes and experience of these girls you've always loved. And yes - your Molly and Samantha dolls will be along for the ride throughout all of this. 

Around ten years from now, you'll finally make it to New York City - where you'll excitedly take your girlfriends on your first EVER trip to American Girl Place. You'll spend more time there than anywhere else near 5th Avenue, and you'll be wishing you could bring home the entire collection! From that point on, anytime you are in New York, you'll make it a point to stop and visit the store. 

However, the best thing that's going to happen is even further down the road. In 2020, you're going to have your own little girl who's turning eight years old - and that's going to be even more special than you can dream right now. That little girl is going to wholeheartedly embrace your love for these dolls and their world, and together, you're going to live through the magic all over again. There is something incredibly special about passing on your treasured keepsakes to your kids. Don't believe me? Just you wait and see how spectacular it is when the only thing she wants for her eighth birthday is that Samantha doll of yours. 

She's going to read the books over and over again. She'll giggle when Samantha teases Eddie Ryland. She's going to make secret presents and sneak them under the tree on Christmas Eve so she can feel like a Christmas secret-keeper like Molly. She's going to say "Mom, do you know what Felicity and Elizabeth keep calling Elizabeth's sister?!" And after you reply "Bananabelle, of course!," you'll both laugh and laugh. 

Oh, and her Halloween costume that same year she turns eight? It's a matching Samantha dress from Pleasant Company (but don't get too jealous of your kid....even though I know you'd die of excitement if you had that dress in your collection).  

Eight-year-old self, there's a little something more that I think you should know. Those characters and their stories are going to become such a big part of who you are. They're going to help define how you see the world. You're going to remember Felicity's loyalty, Kirsten's pioneer spirit, Addy's quest for freedom, Samantha's hopes for justice and equality, and Molly's patriotism and spunk - and each of those things is going to contribute to the woman you grow up to be. But it won't stop there! You'll be able to share those same stories and so many more with your own daughter, and watch her form her own thoughts and opinions about how to tackle the world as she grows up...your very own little world-changing American Girl. 

It's going to be beyond beautiful.

If you are looking for a gift this year, consider an American Girl doll - it may end up becoming a family heirloom (like ours have). We had to add a Julie doll to our collection this year because...well, that's my name! And to those of you who might be, my daughter Addie was not technically named after an American Girl character. But with both of our names represented in the historical character collection, we kinda think we're gonna be American Girl fans for the long haul. 

American Girl is offering free shipping on orders of $135+ this holiday season! Leave a comment and let me know which doll was your favorite growing up...and which one you would choose now! 

Thank you to Sivan Social for sponsoring this post. For more information, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

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