Branstad family photos 2018

With all the madness of the holiday season combined with a whole bunch of gift guides and a trip across the globe, it was hard to fit in our annual family photos post!

We are already a month into 2019 and although you have seen a few sneak peeks – here is the full monty. This year we worked with a new photographer, Poppy Photography by Chelsy, and I absolutely loved the end result!


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Thailand // part five

Waking up Christmas morning in Thailand was definitely different. But as long as the kiddos had gifts in their stockings, they didn’t seem to mind.thailand5_2018_00002thailand5_2018_00003
After scarfing down the cutest pancakes ever, we all got ready to head out on our final excursion. We took vans into town to Discover Catamaran for their day trip to Phi Phi Islands.thailand5_2018_00005thailand5_2018_00007At our first stop they unfurled this amazing blow-up water slide that went from the top deck into the ocean. The ride was epic!thailand5_2018_00016thailand5_2018_00017thailand5_2018_00008thailand5_2018_00009thailand5_2018_00010thailand5_2018_00011
We stopped again after lunch for some more snorkeling and the entire fam got in this time. Both of the boys loved being in the ocean and Everett was an expert snorkeler by now!thailand5_2018_00021
We docked just off the island and got to spend a little time walking around town. The kids bee-lined to the nearest ice cream stand. Go figure!thailand5_2018_00012thailand5_2018_00013thailand5_2018_00014
Back on board, we started our trek back to Phuket and got to watch the sunset from the upper deck. If you make your way to Thailand, put this day trip on your to-do list!thailand5_2018_00015thailand5_2018_00018thailand5_2018_00019
We had a few days left of our trip and we spent them hanging at the house by the pool and getting spa services. Not too shabby.thailand5_2018_00022
The adults even got to go out for dinner on our last night there. It was much needed and the food at The Cosmo was delish!thailand5_2018_00025
On our last day at the house, we were shown how to make a few Thai dishes and sides. My favorite was Pad See Ew, obviously. thailand5_2018_00023thailand5_2018_00024thailand5_2018_00026
Our flights home were a little crazy. We left Phuket at 11 p.m. and arrived in Shanghai around 5/6 a.m. Then we had a six hour layover (yeesh!), followed by a 12 hour flight to Chicago. We arrived in the CHI a little before 10 a.m., but then had the LONGEST WAIT EVER for our bags to finally show up. We finally got out of the airport around 1 p.m. and started our long (and very sleep deprived) drive home. thailand5_2018_00027All in all, Thailand should definitely be on your travel list. It was absolutely beautiful and we would go back in a heartbeat. Well, maybe after some much needed rest!

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Friday faves

IMG_5372.jpg[Fitzie celebrated his 100th day of preschool this week]

This week has been awfully cold here in the midwest and I don’t know about you, but I could definitely use a dose of SPRING. And what better way to do that than to head to the Des Moines Home + Garden Show that kicks off next week! Even better, I have four tickets to giveaway. Leave a comment on this post (or comment on my Instagram post) to be entered. I’ll draw a winner on Monday, February 4. 

In need of a cute Galentine idea? My sister sent over a link to these Valentine cozy socks this week and I think they would be perfect paired with a nail polish to gift to your friends.

A couple of weeks ago I posted about a few Target swimsuits that I ordered. Well, I’m back to tell you that I loved one of them and can’t wait for warmer weather to be here so I can wear it. Definitely flattering of my mom bod!



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Thailand // part four

In my last post I mentioned our amazing Airbnb, but I didn’t really share too many photos of it. It had multiple levels, a koi pond with stepping stones, two pools and the most amazing staff. thailand4_2018_00007thailand4_2018_00008thailand4_2018_00009thailand4_2018_00010thailand4_2018_00013From the house we were about a 5-10 minute drive from one of Phuket’s most beautiful beaches, Nai Harn. We loaded up towels and lots of sunscreen and headed out. As you will see below, Fitz and Ev had a love/hate relationship with sand on this trip.
thailand4_2018_00001thailand4_2018_00002thailand4_2018_00003thailand4_2018_00004thailand4_2018_00005Christmas Eve was here and the kids were getting so excited. We made ornaments for our tree and hung the stockings with care. Marcus even got new beard hair!

[always being served delicious + fresh food]thailand4_2018_00016
We got dressed up in our nice clothes to head to church, only to find out that we got the time wrong. There were a few people at the church preparing for the later Mass, so we were able to go in and say a few prayers. thailand4_2018_00017thailand4_2018_00018thailand4_2018_00019thailand4_2018_00020
[what family photos really look like]thailand4_2018_00021thailand4_2018_00022thailand4_2018_00023thailand4_2018_00024
After we got home the kids put on their matching jammies and decorated cupcakes to leave out for Santa.thailand4_2018_00025thailand4_2018_00026thailand4_2018_00028
Then the adults feasted on a fresh seafood dinner.thailand4_2018_00029thailand4_2018_00030thailand4_2018_00031
And the last thing we did on Christmas Eve was listen to Grandpa read The Night Before Christmas out loud.thailand4_2018_00032

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Thailand // part three

Keeping the kids happy and entertained let us to our next excursion spot: Splash Jungle Water Park. It ended up being such a hot day, so a park full of water slides was perfect!thailand3_2018_00001thailand3_2018_00002thailand3_2018_00003
[standard ‘trying to get everyone in the shot’ photo]

Fitz had a little too much fun and passed out mid bite at the lunch table. I may be a terrible mom for taking these following photos, but I just couldn’t not document it.thailand3_2018_00005thailand3_2018_00006thailand3_2018_00007
Don’t worry. He bounced back upon waking with more water slides and some ice cream.thailand3_2018_00008
We spent our last day at the hotel playing in the bath tub and the pool, then we were off to stay at our Airbnbthailand3_2018_00009thailand3_2018_00011
Upon arrival, we immediately bellied up to the pool bar.thailand3_2018_00013
They next day, we put on long pants and got ready to sweat it out during our trek to see the Big Buddha.thailand3_2018_00014thailand3_2018_00016
[he couldn’t not take a photo by the trash cans]thailand3_2018_00018thailand3_2018_00021thailand3_2018_00020
[a sweet message from my niece]thailand3_2018_00017thailand3_2018_00019

Built over 12 years, the Big Buddha sits on top of a hill and is the third-tallest statue in Thailand. It is 148 feet tall and built with concrete and covered with Burmese white marble.

thailand3_2018_00004Ok, I’m sure you are thinking, “are we done yet?” And the answer to that is NOPE. Still more Phuket posts ahead 😉 Including Christmas and a catamaran trip to Phi Phi Islands.

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Friday faves

img_5311[we are confused about the weather over here]

With a sick kid + snow days combined, I feel like I’ve been cooped up in my house for far too long. I am hoping to get out this weekend and finally check out Teddy Maroon’s here in Des Moines. What should I have for brunch? Other than a mimosa, obviously.

Speaking of cooped up, the kids were climbing the walls earlier this weekend when I came across an Instagram story series from Amy Lou Hawthorne of The Ever Co. She was sharing all sorts of cool ideas for indoor play when the weather isn’t cooperating. After viewing I immediately added kinetic sand and water beads to my Amazon cart.

For some reason after the holidays I start to crave podcasts during my commute to/from work. This year is no exception and I’ve been loving these two: Dirty John and Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert.


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Little looks: Valentine’s Day 2019

It’s hard to believe we are already over half way through the month of January. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner now, and I’m seeing heart-laden goodies everywhere these days.

So now is as good as time as any to round up a few of my favorites for the littles so that they can spread the love.

Pippa & Julie Heart Print Skirt // Peek Kind Heart Baseball T-Shirt
Meri Meri Glitter Heart Bag // Old Navy Heart “XO” Sleep Set
Hanna Andersson Swedish Slipper Moccasins
Annie & Pretzel Bow
J.Crew Kids’ x Girls Inc. strong heart T-shirt
H&M Jersey Hat and Tube Scarf // J.Crew cable-heart sweater
H&M skirt with straps

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