Mommy mind: traveling with a toddler

We are fresh off of our Spring Break trip to Arizona and I thought it might be beneficial to other mamas out there if I talked about our traveling experience with the little man.

First of all, thank heavens for a direct flight. Our goal was to not let his feet touch the floor. Being the active little dude that he is, we knew that once he was free he would never get back on our lap. The last 20 minutes were probably the worst both ways. This could be because of the plane descending or more likely, that he was just over sitting still.

After searching Pinterest and consulting my mom, here are the things I brought to keep a 15 month old occupied during our 2+ hour flight.

ToddlerPlaneEssentials1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

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Air trip: Mesa

Fresh off our spring break excursion to sunny Arizona and it looks like I brought back a little sunshine for Iowa as well. Temps already hit 70 today and I know that Everett is very happy about that. We had a hard time keeping this kid indoors while we were in Mesa, but I can’t blame him after another long midwest winter.

Here is some of the fun we had in AZ:

IMG_9240 IMG_9171_2 IMG_9102_2 IMG_9178_2 IMG_9207_2 IMG_9109_2 IMG_9098_2 IMG_9164_2 IMG_9205_2

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Sunshine ahead

I don’t think we could have picked a better time to get out of Iowa. After weeks of frigid temps and recent snow, we are headed to warmer weather in sunny Mesa, Arizona. Deuces Des Moines!


After soaking up some much needed vitamin D, we may never want to come back. In the meantime, if you’d like to see what we’re up to in real time, follow me over on Instagram.

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Obsessed: boys will be boys

I have two sisters and seven nieces, so raising a boy thus far has been an eye opening experience. Everett is loud, has overly sweaty feet and loves to wrestle. And even though he is only 14 months old, I can already tell that he is all boy.

Being a mom to a boy has been such a joy! I get to play with all the toys I never had growing up in a house full of girls. I get to indulge him in a little roughhousing on our unmade bed before bath time. I get to dress him up like a lumberjack in flannel shirts. I get to bathe him more often because of the layer of dirt he seems to accumulate. And I get to hold him every night trying not to think about the fact that one day he will be bigger than me. Okay, that last one makes me want to weep.

In honor of all things little dudes, here are some of the fun boy things we love at the Branstad household:


Carter’s pajamas: We are huge Carter’s fans at our house, especially their PJs. Cute and affordable is a winning combo in my book. That also might be why Everett has about ten pairs. Whoops.

Star Wars bath toys: Everett got these as a Christmas gift from his Aunt and Uncle and they are mainstays at tub time. I will add that his dad is a huge fan of these as well!

Shark wet/dry pouch: I just purchased one of these for our upcoming trip to Arizona and I know it’ll get a ton of use this summer as well.

Nike Free 5.0: These are Everett’s only pair of shoes right now. Perfect for the on-the-go toddler.

Kids camo tent: We play with this tent on a daily basis in our house. He gets the biggest kick out of mom being inside the tent. So do I! Especially when it involves kisses through the mesh screen.

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Mommy mind: how I met your father

In honor of Valentine’s Day and all things mushy, I decided to write-up a nice little story for Everett (and any of our future kiddos) of how I met their father.

Marcus and I first technically met while we attended the same high school here in Des Moines. He was wild, goofy and a bit of a class clown, while I was involved in athletics and pretty much a goody two shoes. So, yes, our pairing at that time in our life was definitely off the table.

SeniorProm[but we were in the same senior prom group]

After graduating high school, I was windy city bound to spend time with the Jesuits and Marcus headed to northern Iowa to attend a small, private school. During school breaks we would find our way back to Des Moines and occasionally end up at the same local watering holes. But during those college years, that was about all the interaction we had.

Upon graduating our respective universities, we each set off on our career paths. I stayed in Chicago to work for a magazine and Marcus got into the political arena. On a trip home for the holidays we were both on a festive bus of glad tidings, making our rounds around Des Moines, and sparks flew. Unbeknownst to me, Marcus had taken a liking to me during this time but did not profess (nor act) on his feelings. After the holiday break, I went back to Chicago to continue to live the single life.

Fast forward to June the following year when I made my way back home for a long weekend to see my family. Our paths crossed again, but by this time I was aware of his crush on me. After a night out on the town with friends, I decided to take matters into my own hands and planted a kiss on him. That’s right ladies – sometimes you just have make the first move. [Marcus might argue this one, but I’m positive it was a 90/10 interaction.]

Over the next two years, and many trips back and forth, our love would continue to blossom and grow and in 2009 I moved backed to Iowa to be with the man I loved and would eventually marry.

And we lived happily ever after…


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A big night at the Palace

Commander’s Palace, that is.

This year marked the fifth annual Big Night dinner for our fine dining group of friends and family, and man, was it good.

The chefs (my husband and his three best buds) put together a feast based on a visit to the restaurant, Commander’s Palace, in New Orleans. Think shrimp tasso, an oyster dome and bananas foster.
IMG_8972[a toast to a great night] IMG_8969
[the table is set]IMG_9004
[the chefs are lookin’ good]IMG_9003
[I’m pretty spoiled by this man]

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Love fest

I don’t need a holiday to remind me of how much love I have in my life, but every year I welcome Valentine’s Day with open arms.

I love getting my men little gifts for the special day and this year is no different. Evie will be getting two new books from the awesomely illustrated BabyLit collection (Sherlock and Huckleberry Finn), and my main squeeze will be the proud new owner of some pretty sweet camouflage socks. Nothing too crazy, but just enough to show both of them that they are always on my mind.

While I don’t expect anything in return, if you are someone who likes getting a little something special on Valentine’s Day (or are looking for a gift for one of those people), then here are a few great ideas.


locally-sourced lingerie //champagne card // chocolate //  lip scrub // card // candles

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