Elderflower French 75

Summer is so close I can taste it, literally! In anticipation of my favourite season I’m launching a summer cocktail series with one of my besties, and my favourite blogger, Holly from Chandeliers and Champagne. If you don’t follow her yet, you’re missing out. She posts the most beautiful home and lifestyle content, and has the cutest little family.

To kick off our summer cocktail series we’ve perfected an Elderflower French 75. If you like prosecco cocktails you’re going to love this. It’s tart and refreshing, exactly what I look for in a summer drink.

This would be a perfect drink for a party since you can prep the first part of the cocktail and keep it in the fridge until your guests arrive, then top it off with the bubbly when you’re ready. No need to play bartender all night but you’ll still wow your guests with your hostess skills. Bridal shower season just got a whole lot easier!

This is a really simple cocktail to make, but packs a punch both in taste and show. The most important thing is to make sure you use fresh lemon juice. Sorry, but the bottled stuff just won’t cut it here.

Elderflower French 75

Yields 2 cocktails

You’ll need: 

  • 2 oz gin
  • 2 oz elderflower liqueur
  • 2 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • Prosecco or champagne to top, approximately 6 oz

Directions:

Mix gin, elderflower liqueur and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Pour into a champagne flute or coupe and top with chilled prosecco.

Hope you enjoy the first cocktail in our summer drink series, be sure to follow along on Instagram (@alexandtribe, @chandeliers.and.champagne) to see what else we come up with over the course of the summer and tag us in you pics if you recreate any of our cocktails. Cheers!

Austin’s birth story

I know lots of people don’t have their baby’s birth go according to plan; babies have a habit of doing things their own way. But Austin’s birth really didn’t go according to plan. At all.

The day Austin was born was like any other day. I was 38 weeks and 5 days pregnant, feeling super sore and uncomfortable, but who doesn’t at this point in pregnancy. A girlfriend and I took our kids to an indoor play place in the morning and then came back to my house for a couple hours. When they left, I put Colton down for his nap and laid down on the couch myself; still no inkling I was about to go into labour. Right after I got Colton up from his nap, I had my first contraction. It came fast and hard, no warm up or grace period here. I grabbed my phone to start timing them and the second one came just 30 seconds later, and they were already lasting for over a minute. I called Justin on the second contraction, not wanting to waste any time. I figured this would be a fast birth. Colton only took about 6 hours from first contraction to being born, I assumed this time around would be similar, maybe a bit faster.

After I called Justin, I went downstairs to wait for him to get home from work. As soon as I had that first contraction though I was basically already in full-blown labour. My contractions were butting right up against each other, coming fast and furiously. I was leaning over the counter trying to breathe and cry though them. Colton was still so young, only 22 months and standing by my side crying, not sure what was going on. I remember feeling so sad that I couldn’t help him more, the best I could muster was holding his hand while I rode though the waves of pain.

As soon as Justin got home, he scooped up Colton to calm him down and started grabbing our bags and running them out to the truck. I’m not sure how I managed it, but somehow, I got myself out to the truck and crawled into the front seat, not even capable of sitting, rather on the ground hunched over the seat, facing the back of the truck in a ‘preacher’ position. There was zero chance of me sitting at this point. Looking back, without really realizing it I must have been going though transition while I was at home, going from 9 to 10 cm. Explains the pain, I guess! Somewhere in the back of my head, I knew my body was already telling me to push, but I had such a one-track mind at this point. All I could think was get to the hospital, get to the hospital.

Everything after this point is a bit of a blur. Justin sped away driving god knows how fast trying to get us to the hospital. My parents were going to meet us there to take Colton. We’re about a 20-minute drive from the hospital but we barely made it half-way there. As Justin sped down the Anthony Henday freeway I was screaming, the pain was beyond overwhelming. I had an epidural with Colton once I hit 7 cm, so this was a whole new experience for me. Somehow my body must have taken over to help logic prevail. I realized that the baby was coming. We weren’t making it to the hospital. I was going to have this baby in the truck, on the freeway, in rush hour traffic, with my Colton in the backseat having to listen to the whole thing. Somehow, I was able to shimmy my pants down, all I remember was screaming to Justin, “Oh my god, his head is out!” At this point Justin pulled off of the Henday into the muddy median at full-speed, moved us as far away from the fast lane as he could to keep us safe, came to a stop and bolted over to my side of the truck. As he was doing this my water broke and Austin was out in one push, Justin catching him basically in the nick of time.

It’s a good thing that Justin had actually watched Colton being born. He said that having done that at least prepared him for everything that was happening. He knew what to expect to a certain extent. Seeing the conical shape to the head didn’t phase him, he had seen that before. Seeing the blue-ish tinge to Austin’s skin colour didn’t bother him, as he’d seen that with Colton too. As soon as Austin came out Justin inspected him closely and realized that the baby was trying to take his first breath, but his whole mouth and nose were completely full of fluid and he wasn’t able to get any oxygen. Justin had to clear Austin’s airways out to help him start breathing, but the umbilical cord was wrapped around Austin’s leg and there wasn’t enough ‘slack’ to upright the baby. I remember crying out “he’s still attached to me,” it was painful having the umbilical cord being pulled on, but Justin had to help the baby. Justin carefully unwrapped the cord from around Austin’s thigh, sat him upright in his arms and as he did so noticed that the fluid was dribbling out of Austin’s nose and mouth – then came the biggest relief, a deep first breath immediately followed by that newborn baby cry! It was an unusually cold April and I remember being so cold. I think the shivering was partially due to the shock to my body, partially to the fact that I was half-naked, covered in birthing fluid with the cold April wind whipping though the truck. I could feel my whole body just shaking. The baby was cold too. Luckily, we had a blanket in the back seat and we were able to wrap him up. Justin threw his jacket over me and turned the heat up to full blast while we waited for help to arrive. It took somewhere between 10 to 15 minutes before emergency crews were able to get to us. It was rush hour on the Henday, not an ideal time to give birth. Sorry to anyone reading this who may have been stuck for my traffic jam for an hour haha.

All at once a whole crew of emergency vehicles showed up—police, fire, ambulance. That was a highlight for Colton, he’s always been obsessed with emergency vehicles. From where I was, it felt like there was a bit of confusion over what had to happen next. I suppose it’s not every day someone has a baby on the side of the road. Eventually the umbilical cord got cut, they actually had a scalpel on hand and let Justin do it (right in the truck!), which is nice, because now he got to do it for both boys. I was barely able to get out of the vehicle; my body was in such shock. We were eventually able to get me up and onto a stretcher and into the ambulance with Austin.

Once I was in the ambulance, I finally got a chance to hold my baby for the first time. They helped me to start skin-to-skin and I’m happy I was able to ride with him against me on the way to the hospital. If I think too hard about it, I feel sad I lost out on that first hour of bonding with my baby. But it is what is, I’m just so grateful that we were both safe and healthy. Once we got to the hospital, the doctor had to give Austin some glucose, as he had gotten a bit too cold while we were outside. Other than that though he was perfectly healthy at 7lbs 7oz. Of course, my “au natural” baby would be my big baby haha.

It wasn’t until I got to the hospital that I got to deliver my placenta. Let me tell you, having that inside of me for more than an hour post-birth was not fun. Literally the second I delivered it I felt a wave of relief wash over my body. After all of that, everything else went pretty seamlessly. We went to our room and had some one-on-one time with our new baby. Colton and my parents got to meet him right away. Faster then they would have normally, because they were all at the hospital already. Its pretty cool looking back now thinking that Colton was there for the birth of his brother. I consider it a blessing that his car seat was still rear-facing. Being there is one thing, having to see it is another haha.

And there you have it, the story of my little drama queen making his much talked about entrance into the world. He came fast and furious, just like his personality these days. When he’s decided he’s going to do something, he does it. I can’t believe it’s already been a year, man does time fly the second time around.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions. Did anyone else have a dramatic birth? I’d love to hear about it!

12 tips for travelling with a baby and a toddler

I’ve travelled quite a bit with the kids since they’ve been born. I think Colton was on like 15 flights before he was 2.5 years old and Austin 8 flights before he was 6 months old, so I feel like I’ve learned a thing or two about simplifying trips with kids in tow.

Here’s 12 of my top tips for international trips with a baby and a toddler.

  1. Bring the double stroller. Now obviously this does slightly depend on the type of trip you’re taking, but so far, I’ve never regretted taking my Baby Jogger City Select double stroller. I debated it so much before we went to Europe, trying to decide if I should buy a smaller, lighter stroller and just let the boys take turns riding in it, but in the end, I brought it and it was a life saver so many times. Both boys napped in it at the airport during layovers. It also contained Colton at the airport which we needed for our sanity lol. It was also 100% necessary to have both kids in the stroller in cities like London and Rome. They are so big, with so many people; and we did so much walking, so it was a relief to be able to have the kids comfortable and contained. It was interesting getting it around on the tube in London though…of course none of the stations we used had an elevator. We made it work though!
  2. Bring a baby carrier. I brought two different carriers with me (I’ve got quite a few different ones haha). I brought a semi-structured one, the Phil and Teds Airlight carrier which is great for travel because it folds up super small and barely takes up any room in your suitcase (as opposed to my Ergo 360) and it also has a mesh fabric to keep you and baby cooler. I also brought my Wildbird Ring Sling, which I love when I need to put the baby up quickly or for shorter periods of time. It also takes up very little room and I always kept it on me in my diaper bag.
  3. Find accommodations that have crib or pack n’ play rentals. Let’s face it, as much as you try to pack light it’s not easy with kids. You’ve got a couple suitcases, a couple kids, a big stroller, a diaper bag…the last thing you need is another thing to carry. So, my advice is to book hotels or Airbnb’s that have cribs or pack n’ plays available for you. If it doesn’t mention it in the listing description contact the property, I’ve found that they’ll usually find a way to get you one.
  4. Bring your iPad and load it up with shows. Obviously, I don’t love being the mom who hands her kid an iPad, but on a trip, anything goes in my opinion. We download a bunch of Netflix shows for Colton before a flight and let him watch it as long as he wants. This didn’t really work until he was over 2 years old. We tried using the iPad on a flight when he was 18 months old, but he had no real interest. It’s also handy to have when you’re in a drastically different time zone. Helps to have something to watch at 1 a.m. when you’re all wide awake.
  5. Snacks, snacks and more snacks. For any kid over 6 months old, snacks can help kill time on the plane. I always bring a wide variety of both healthy options and treats. Food that takes longer to eat is always a win too, like a lollipop. You should also pack some snacks in your suitcase for when you get to your destination. We didn’t get to our Rome Airbnb until after midnight local time, after about 24 hours of travelling. We were so grateful to have some food tucked away in our suitcase for our grumpy two-year-old.
  6. Don’t over plan your days. In the past when I’ve travelled, I’ve always loved to plan a super full itinerary. I love seeing as much as I can and doing as much as I can when I travel. This is not the case when I travel with my kids. Trust me, Europe was very different this time around than when I’ve travelled there in the past. Slow and easy days, without timelines are the way to go. I find having to be somewhere at a specific time way more stressful. You never know if someone is going to sleep bad the night before, fall and scrape a knee, have an epic meltdown for no reason or need an early nap. Just plan to go with the flow as much as possible and see what you can see. Everyone will be happier for it.
  7. Plan stuff for you and the kids. I feel like a holiday with a nice mix of activities for the adults and kids is the way to go. Trust me, no kid is going to enjoy being toted around to museums and fancy restaurants all day, everyday. In Arizona for example we went hiking for us, but to the zoo for Colton. In Italy, we went to the Colosseum for us, but to a farm with animals for Colton. Honestly, seeing your kids happy and having fun is as fun as it gets. Most cities have pretty cool children’s museums, or zoos, or aquariums. If your kids are a bit older, give them a couple options to research and then let them pick what they want to do!
  8. Buy diapers and wipes there. Have you packed diapers and wipes for a trip yet? I have and they take up so much luggage space. And that was just with one child. Now that I have two, I literally have no room to pack that kind of stuff for them. Unless you’re in the middle of nowhere you’ll be able to find diapers and wipes when you’re travelling. Pack enough to get you through your first day or two and then buy the rest when you’re there. I like to look up the nearest supermarket before I get there so I’m not stressed about running out and having to find them.
  9. Backpack diaper bag. I find this style of diaper bag so much easier for travelling. When you’re travelling you usually have more stuff with you than normal. Some toys to keep the kids entertained, drinks, snacks, cameras etc. This style of bag is just easier to tote around, especially if you have to wear your baby in a carrier at some point. I have the Freshly Picked one and I love it because its stylish and not too big. I’ll be using it for travel long after it’s served its purpose as my diaper bag.
  10. Stroller lines at airport. Ok, this is the best part of travelling with small kids in tow. When you have your stroller you almost always get put into a priority lane at airports. Keep your eye out for a sign mentioning stroller lanes or look for a security guard, they’ll usually direct you towards one. There’s been times where I swear, we’ve avoided an hour-long line up at security. Finally, your kids are good for something 😉.
  11. Get Airbnb’s not hotels. I’ve done both hotels and Airbnb’s with kids and I can say with total confidence that Airbnb’s are way easier during the baby and toddler stage. Hotels are too noisy and too small. We put Colton in the bathroom in his crib once when we stayed at the Fairmont in Scottsdale and while that helped, we still had to whisper, and it didn’t prevent noisy people in the halls from waking him up. Airbnb’s with separate rooms for the kids mean that after you put them to bed you still get to stay up and enjoy yourself without tiptoeing around. There’s also more room for the kids to run and play, and kitchens to make some of your own meals and snacks, which I feel like is necessary with kids.  
  12. Mindset. This one is huge and probably the most important item to remember if you want to enjoy travelling with a baby and toddler. Keep a positive mindset. Dreading a flight puts you on edge before you’re even on a plane. Stressing about the what if’s make it so that you can’t enjoy the now. No doubt travelling with kids is hard, and totally different that travelling without, but if you accept that and keep a positive mindset, you’ll enjoy yourself so much more. Your baby is going to cry at some point on the plane. Your toddler will meltdown at a restaurant. So what, it happens. Your kids are also going to have all new experiences, meet new people, see different cultures. They’ll learn and grow, and you’ll get a totally great bonding experience as a family. The pros so outweigh the cons.

Hope you found some of my tips useful for your upcoming trips. Leave a comment if you have any questions or if you have any tips of your own. Happy travels!