It's a little bit ironic... don't you think?

The week of Emerson Claire’s birthday haunts me every year as I can’t help but walk through the days that of my panic as my body failed to stay pregnant and our little miracle entered the world as my soul was paralyzed with fear yet enlightened with the only thing I could do…hope. As many NICU moms can relate, every year while planning to celebrate, a shadow casts over me as I recall the blood, uncertainty and helplessness we felt as I lost my fight to stay pregnant. The smokey California skies this weekend didn’t help me escape again this year...

Every year I walk through November 2015 day-by-day, with the PTSD temporarily creeping back into the aches of my heart that have healed with Emerson’s smile and progress but still hurt

  • November 11- finally 28 weeks, home from weeks of hospitalized bed rest, finally reunited with my Grace but living temporarily at my parents while the house we had just purchased is remodeled.

  • November 12th- picking out stains for our new hardwood floors when sudden excruciating pains overtake my abdomen. I call the doctor and they say I am probably fine but see me. They think it’s my body adjusting to being upright again. Tiny bones break in my feet having used them for the first time in months.

  • November 13th- I start bleeding and can’t get out of bed but too sheepish to go back to the doctor as they said I was fine yesterday…right?

  • November 14th evening- Blood and tissue is passing and I send a text to my MFM who tells me to rush to the ER. I am admitted and I get hooked up to dreadfully painful magnesium drip to prevent brain bleeds in Emery, meds to slow contractions while we try to get two rounds of steroids in for her lungs. Panic overwhelms the physical space as everyone rushes by with uncertain looks. I’m facing a placental abruption and my waters are leaking. I just remember so much tissue and blood, so much pain, and panic.

  • November 15th-  The neonatologist comes in and what may be one of the scariest moments of my life (and Grant’s, my parent’s and Grants’ mom who are gathered in the tiny delivery room.) She unemotionally rattles off all of our odds- for survival, for serious handicaps, and forewarns of the arduous NICU journey. We nod and try not to look at each other and hold it together. Tears well on the inside. Seconds later I can’t help it, I scream and the NICU team assembles in mere second, its truly marvelous Grant and I recall, a fluid team working together. They tell me to hold her in for 2 more minutes, and literally mean to stay pregnant for another 120 seconds. At 90 seconds I tell them I can’t anymore, holding my breath with my heart racing as I battle being unable to keep her in and protected anymore.

    The next 10 minutes are a blur as Grant and everyone hovers over her teeny limp, purple body- but I couldn’t see her then. Grant and the neonatologists whisk her to the NICU and I’m left alone in a bed of blood realizing that the nightmare I tried so hard to avoid all those weeks on hospitalized bed rest was happening- I was living the nightmare. And oddly - all alone.

    Grant was with the NICU team with my phone in his pocket, so no one came by to tell me if my 29 weeker was alive. May not sound like terribly long, but those 4 hours not knowing are etched in every ounce of my body with fear and guilt running through my blood of bringing a little girl into the world 11 weeks too early. It would be days before I could hold her, and when I finally saw her, my first thought was she looked like an uncooked purple pork tenderloin. Who thinks that the first time they see their child?

    With Emery overcoming her 6th battle of pneumonia of 2018 this week, its a reminder how a few extra weeks in the womb would have protected her and let those lungs and immune system grow.

    With so many beautiful congratulations as we announced the pregnancy of our little boy last week, many inquisitive friends also asked how this pregnancy would go with my history and if I’d be blogging. Between working on my doctorate and the two little girls at home, I wasn’t planning on it, but felt compelled to share at least the milestones of this journey.

    So here is the irony: this week, the week that washes over me like a cloud of inescapable soot, I have to have a fairly invasive surgery to stay pregnant... ironic that it’s the same week 3 years ago my body failed to do so. It could very well be the same day.

    We go in for pre-op tomorrow, Tuesday, November 13th up in San Francisco with Dr. Michael Katz- a lauded MFM who has some of the highest success rates in the world and will schedule the surgery for sometime the following 72 hours... which encompasses Emerson’s birthday. With this preventative TVCIV cerclage, timing is of the essence as they have to move my bladder and other internal organs to stitch up while keeping the growing baby’s sac small and safe from incision. 

    I remind my self we have a happy ending with Emerson and live life to the fullest each and every day. This week, while we celebrate our sweet miracle baby’s third birthday and try to forget how we lost our battle to stay pregnant longer, we are taking literally the biggest steps we can to stay pregnant this time around with our little boy to complete our family. Wish us luck!

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The Allen Sisters are Adding a Little Mister

Our family of four will blossom into a family of five in Spring 2019 with the addition of a little boy! We are just through the first trimester and the girls are elated for a little brother - the first thing Emery does every single morning when she wakes is ask to see “a pink picture of baby brother” which is essentially a generic baby at X weeks photo from a pregnancy app :)

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Grace had wanted another sister but is now game for a little brother as long as she doesn’t have to change stinky diapers. Deal! I envision her job mostly being entertaining Emery anyway! Crazy when Baby boy is born we will have a 4.5 year old and 3 year old— time is flying! Counting my blessings on this journey to complete our little family!

Spring in Zurich!

Well we have officially be in Europe for a little over 2 weeks, having left California 3 weeks ago today! Time flies, doesn't it? 

In many ways, we became naturally settled into our new life in Kilchberg quite easily. The town is ever so charming, and quiet. We revel in our gorgeous lake view, and while the town doesn't have much activity, we walk 100 yards to the train to be downtown in 10 minutes! Running along the lakefront has become a new daily ritual of mine, allowing me to reflect on how lucky we are to share this adventure as a family! 

As I already knew most of the logistics regarding Swiss life from our 3 months last summer, the transition has been natural (yes, we are now used to paying for grocery carts and about $1.15 for a garbage bag!). I also knew what things to bring from home this year-- like all of our arts and crafts supplies which has already made our new house feel like home for us!

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The girls started school, and it is taking some getting used to. We are so lucky back in California with the incredible preschool "Children's Center" Grace has attended for the past two years, it is an adjustment getting used to swiss schooling. I have always said that the only parenting decision I have ever made that I havent had to question was sending my kids to Children's Center - it is a deeply nurturing environment. The Swiss School system is a bit different, taking us all outside our comfort zone, which is exactly why we signed up for it! Emery is going to school for the first time on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. School starts at 7:45 which means I need to get the girls up, dressed, pack their bags (ugh, I have to pack food/bottles/extra clothes/sunscreen and other gear every day), feed them breakfast, wrangle them into coats (I miss you, California Weather!) and then we walk about a mile to school on a lovely little pedestrian path covered in vines where the air smells like chocolate from the neighboring Lindt Chocolate factory.

On Wednesdays, Emery and I drop Gracie off at the foot of the Forest in Ruschlikon for Forest School. As we have to take the bus, Emery and I have been going up to Park im Gruene every Wednesday for our own Mommy & Me adventure exploring the playground, petting donkeys, enjoying the lake view and grabbing brunch together by the indoor playground before doing our weekly Grocery shopping at Migros. Grace is 50/50 on forest school. This week it was POURING rain. Getting her ready for forest school (which fortunately starts at 8:15!) means lots of tick and mosquito spray, sunscreen, a layer of long clothing a layer of hiking pants/jacket/sunscreen scarf/hat/etc along with long socks and hiking boots. They are SERIOUS about the gear, and I think it is a little overwhelming for my American princess 3 year old! They hike miles upon miles, have snack time around a firepit, and come home beyond muddy. In many ways I "get" it, but I also wonder if we are pushing it a little bit... 

My schooling has been interesting, but I have actually greatly enjoyed my classes this semester, despite having to log-in to Vanderbilt at 12midnight until 4am every Tuesday night/Wednesday morning for our class time. I really love my professors and the lectures have been thought provoking! I am quite glad I bought my textbooks back in the States and brought them with as there is no Amazon here in Switzerland and I am unsure how I would have gotten them. 

Our apartment is lovely, on two levels with three bedrooms and two big bathrooms - a real upgrade from last year with such a cherished Lake view - sunset and sunrise are spectacular! There is a little playroom for the girls and the patio makes for the perfect place for outdoor painting and craft projects on sunny days! 

We joined the local Kilchberg Seebad on the lake which has a neat little restaurant, pools, a pirateship playground (the same one as at PAMF Palo Alto!), some fountains for the kids to play in, ping pong tables and a giant waterslide that goes right into the lake! We have made some friends there, already the culture down here on the Silver Coast of the Lake is so dramatically different from Oerlikon where we lived last year, seems much more conducive for family time and lots of SAHM or part time. 

Grace and Emery's school hosted a wonderful mother's day brunch which allowed me an opportunity to meet many of the other mother's, I walked away with a heart of joy having met so many incredible mamas - most of whom were not from Switzerland but were expats - some fairly recent and others a decade ago! Many of the moms I met worked/had worked in tech and had been through Silicon Valley or had other USA connections which allowed for some great conversation. Ive even connected with a few over WhatsApp and set up some play dates!

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Speaking of playdates, we had a disaster yesterday! I met a lovely family through school and mentioned we were attending the LeMady Craft and Storytime on the rainy Wednesday afternoon, inviting them to come join us! Well I have taken the kids to messy play back in the states, but this one was out of control - toddlers covered head to toe in paint, I can't even describe it! Grace doesn't like to be messy so she didn't want to participate, and Emery kept slipping and getting hurt and not wanting to share like the terrible 2s she is right now, which was melt-down city! Thankfully the other mom was beyond kind and understanding, but gosh was it embarrassing! That said, I signed us up for the next one in June to make Princess and Pirate Puppets -- sounds more our speed!

Although we relocated here for the Spring/summer to be closer to Grant with his company's HQ in Zurich, he has had a lot of opportunities to travel in our short time here - already going to St Gallen, Oslo, Norway; Vasteras and Stockholm, Sweden. He will meet us in France this weekend then take the chunnel to London for work next week. 

We are off to Paris in the morning to meet up with friends and family over the long weekend, hope you and yours are enjoying Springtime where you may be! Lots of love from the Allen Family!

 

 

Lake Como: 3 Generations of Adventurers in a Quick Weekend Getaway

We had the blessing of having my parents come visit last week on their way to their Viking Cruise leaving from Basel. As the week held many special celebrations, including my mom's 60th birthday and mother's day, we decided to make it extra special!

Upon their arrival, we went to Lucerne only to find the fabulous Transportation Museum ridiculously crowded as it was Ascension Day and the weather was pouring rain. We grabbed a quick lunch and when the rain let up, enjoyed a stroll along the lake. We had all been there together before last year, so we came home and took naps as they were exhausted after arriving that morning. The afternoon was spent at the Swiss National Knie Circus in downtown Zurich at the foot of the Opera House and it was an absolute blast! A favorite from last summer, I was delighted to share the hilarious circus experience with my parents - even with the lack of understanding Swiss German, the performers had us amazed and laughing! It was truly special.

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Friday we headed out to Lake Como where we were staying in the town of Cernobbio which was a first for all of us. We thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of traveling down there, my mom really seeing the Alps for the first time! The drive is short and sweet, and once we checked in, my mom was happy to meet other Viking cruisers in the hotel lobby. That afternoon, we had planned to do a family cooking class which turned out to be perfect as again we were faced with thunderstorms.

I found Amy's Cooking School in Como, Italy on TripAdvisor and she so graciously welcomed us into her home, even setting up English cartoons on her TV and bringing down her now grown teenage sons old toys like trains for the girls to play with! We enjoyed tea and cookies with another family who was doing the class with us before heading into the kitchen!

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We had a blast making fresh gnocchi with pesto, ravioli with lemon and asparagus and plain fettuccini for the toddlers. It was the first time Grant or I had ever made fresh pasta which was a lot of fun. We sipped prosecco while taking turns hand cranking the pasta machine and measuring out ingredients while learning about different types of parmesan cheese and flour found in Italy. Everything was great but the gnocchi may have been the best I have ever tried, ever, anywhere. It was SO good!

We kicked off Saturday morning with a big breakfast at our hotel before exploring Villa D'Este and a local playground so the girls could run off some steam while Grandbarb fetched us some baked goodies for our boat ride. 

My father definitely wouldn't argue that I am very talented in spending all of his money, and per tradition, I rented us a private yacht to take us around Lake Como Saturday midday.  It really wasn't that expensive, but was worth every penny! (It was about $500 for 2 hours for the private charter for the 6 of us.) Our Captain, a dashing Italian named Giacomo, helped us upon the gorgeous wooden boat was classic and the boys drooled over as we explored the coastal towns of Lago di Como in style, passing the gorgeous mansions of George Clooney, Richard Branson, Versace and many other celebrities and royals. We stopped at Isla Comocina (the only island in Lake Como) for a delicious gelato break to take in the splendor of the lake from another vantage point! 

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That afternoon we made ourselves comfortable by the pool enjoying cocktails and swimming with the kiddos as well as endless games of tag on the grass. Emery fell between the rollaway bed and the king size bed, busting open her lip and potentially damaging the nerves of two of her teeth so we just enjoyed room service for dinner and took the rest of the night off. 

Sunday morning we woke up early and had a great family breakfast before driving along Lake Como. It was Mother's day and Grant spoiled my mom and I with some gorgeous scarves, as Lake Como is the Italian Capital of silk. The Gotthard tunnel was severely backed up so it took us awhile to drive north, but first we stopped at the Swiss Minatur museum which everyone enjoyed exploring - it was like a doll house world for the girls! We also road a train and the boys took the girls on bumper boats. A nice little excursion in Lugano to break up the trip a bit on our way to Basel for my parents to join their Viking River Cruise. 

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Of note: All of the blogs I read suggested to not bring a stroller. We wish we had brought ours as where we were in Como and Cernobbio was certainly stroller friendly and would have allowed us to explore a bit more! We had brought the girls' scooters and wished we hadnt as the driving in Italy is as insane as the reputation.  

Another stop on the way to Basel I insisted upon was at Aerbach Chocolatiers outside Lucerne. We all enjoyed the chocolate tour with never ending samples and great little educational vidoes in english! The highlight for the girls may have been the donkey, if you push a button he makes donkey noises and then spits out gold chocolate coins! We also made our own chocolate bars which was great fun and snagged another "Grand Tour of Switzerland" tin box filled with chocolate on our way out. 

It was hard to say goodbye to Grandbarb and Pops but we know they will be enjoying this week on the Rhine!

Our first week in Switzerland!

What a whirlwind of a week it has been as I reflect on all of the beauty we have witnessed, jet lag we have overcome, and overwhelming sense of gratitude I have for all of these lessons we learned last year to make our transition of 9 time zones that much better!

We arrived on Tuesday at 8am and took a black car to our new apartment in Kilchberg right along Zurich's Silver Coast. The girls slept on the plane, but when we opened the apartment door, they immediately found their beds and claimed them with a quick power nap while Grant and I unpacked and got settled. Soon after we went to the trainstation to pick up some food and necessities and explore the local parks and Kilchberg bade (Lakeside Pool Club) which I joined today for a brilliant afternoon of relaxation and taking in the beauty of Lake Zurich and the Alps Cascading behind it. 

Aside from grocery shopping where eggs come in ten packs and you have to pay for shopping carts, our big adventure early in the week was taking the 165 bus up to Park un Gruene with the Migros restaurant which was a delightful morning where the girls and I played with so many other families and enjoyed the sunshine and big open spaces.

I also took a day trip to the city of Zug with the girls which was such a treat as we explored the shops (great shopping right of the train tracks!) art throughout the city and the lakeside which led us to the charming old town and even a beautiful aviary. Just 25 minutes away, I will be back with more energy to explore as we loved our time adventuring about.

We unpacked a bit more and explored our own neighborhood the next few days as Grant was at the St Gallen's Leadership Conference until Friday night when I met up with some fellow members of the World Economic Forum at Frau Gerold Gartens followed by dinner at Viadukt which is a hip restaurant built into the railway arches! It felt nice to get away and have some adult conversations (mostly blockchain and FinTech Related) but the highlight may have been when I stumbled upon the CucumBAR by Hendricks and had an opportunity to plant my own cucumber plant! (On June 14th I get to go back and trade it in for a drink at the bar!) 

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Saturday we did what all new expats probably do and hit up IKEA for some of the essentials missing from our executive apartment, you know, all of those things you don't really need but you get anyway! The kids both went to the kids club which may have been the highlight of their week as they played and played and even got to go in the kids cinema and watch Mickey Mouse for a bit while we knocked off our to-do list! Ikea may be the only place you can get breakfast for under $5, we will take it! My favorite part is the rolling tray carts, we don't have them in the states but I adore them so I can add a tray for each of the girls and myself and seamlessly push it through the restaurant - they are most everywhere here!

Sunday we went to Lichtenstein for a day trip and were constantly "wowed" by the beauty of all of the small lakeside towns on our quick 1 hour, 15 minute drive there. We fell in love with the town of Valduz as an Orchestra played and food was cooked al fresco while we awaited getting our passport stamped and bought tickets for the tiny train tour of the city. The vineyards surrounding the castle and city were both breathtaking and surprsing, adding charm to the city whose streets are filled with fascinating sculptures, shops and delicacies abound! The girls even found a castle shaped bouncy house to jump in with new friends at the foot of an actual castle!! Toddler dreams do come true! 

Speaking of castles, we were driving home as the girls were exhausted when we saw the Gutenberg Castle in Balzers, Lichtenstein which was a great work out to climb up, and we found ourselves winding again through vineyards on the way down after marveling in the beauty of the castle which was constructed around 1100 AD. Just 1000 years ago...

Today was a big day as Emerson Claire had her first day of pre-school ever, as she and Grace will now attend the Double Decker bilingual preschool in Kilchberg a few days a week. We decided to enroll them as last year we found the girls and I were looking for more of a community and knew that a school would help solve for that, and after only orientation day, it certainly has! The school welcomed us so warmly and the other parents as well! After school I took the girls to the Lindt Chocolate factory next door to pick out a chocolate treat (the air literally smells like chocolate all day while they are in school!) and then we went down to the Kilchberg Bade where we swam and played at the gorgeous lakeside playground. Ya'll, this life I am living right now is an absolute dream! 

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I'll start my own classes on Wednesday (well Technically Thursday, as my classes will be from 12midnight until 4:30am, thanks Vanderbilt University and central time!) but I didn't want to risk taking a semester off of my doctorate work so here goes nothing!

Hope each of you are finding the blessings in each new day! Lots of love from the Allen family in Switzerland... Tschuss! 

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Spring Lake, The Statue of Liberty and Au Revoir America!

We had a great flight out on Thursday to NY/NJ, though Newark airport was a nightmare! While we didn't make it to our hotel until circa 1am, we were fortunate that the accommodations were perfect. While normally we would stay with family when we go to the shore, I opted for a hotel so that I could get the girls adjusted to East Coast time more easily, and my plan fortunately worked perfectly! 

We stayed at the Hewitt Wellington right in Spring Lake, New Jersey - my favorite beach town, dubbed the "Irish Riviera" it was the perfect location just across from the Lake and a few blocks to the boardwalk/beach. Though it was pretty chilly, the girls and I took their scooters out daily around the boardwalk and the lake, played in the sand, and enjoyed the beautiful playground at Spring Lake Park. Suite #2, our room had a huge patio that made it easy to store the stroller/scooters and a living room with a pull-out couch for the girls so everyone had their space.

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We had the blessing of spending a great deal of time with Gigi, my dad's mom and the girls great grandmother and enjoyed playing games and eating chocolate with her all weekend long! While Grant was away, the girls and I visited with Aunt Yvonne and Uncle Ron on Saturday and my cousin Jeff may have been their entertainment for the year, introducing them to his pet birds and rough housing until they couldn't giggle anymore! Too fun! 

Saturday night my best friends/bridesmaids Keri Ann and Daniela drove up to the shore and we caught up over too much wine on the balcony overlooking the lake while the girls slept. The following morning we checked out the Scone Pony and got requisite Pork Roll, Egg and Cheese sandwiches on hard rolls from Tom Bailey's Market after a long walk around the lake and followed it up with a nice walk on the boardwalk. 

Sunday night was a blast catching up with my cousin Meredith (I am so proud of her, she graduates in a few weeks!), her mom, her moms sister and Gigi! We had pizza, because NJ pizza is the best, and enjoyed the evening at my grandma's, then had the added benefit of seeing my cousin Jenny and her boys who are close in age to my girls! Too much fun!

Monday morning I turned in my last final and then we took Grandma out for breakfast at Who's On Third (or whatever it has been renamed) before heading up to New York to visit the statue of Liberty and see Ellis Island. The girls loved the ferry boat ride out there and we also appreciated the 9/11 memorial of the no view of the twin towers on the docks. The ferry ride was perfect as we got some great views, but had a chance to stay inside to warm up when needed as it was rainy and the girls preferred to take in the views while enjoying hot dogs and soft pretzels.

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The "doing too much" attitude seemed to work as the girls were perfect on the flight from Newark to Zurich, both watch a show, ate a bit and then slept! I think the Polaris Business Class lie flat seats and amenities kits were such a highlight the girls may now be spoiled, but regardless, we made it here in one piece and even all of our bags arrived! 

Stay tuned for more on our new village of Kilchberg outside Zurich, our flat, and our new adventures as they unfold!

Traveling with Two Toddlers: My Tips, tricks and recipes for sanity!

 In many ways, traveling with two babies was way easier than flights with two toddlers (Grace is 3.5 and Emery almost 2.5). While I have flown solo with the girls plenty of times, I was grateful to have Grant fly across country with us yesterday on the first leg of our journey. With toddlers, normally we don't fly with as much "gear", as I highly recommend renting carseats from the rental car company (Hertz and Avis have always given us almost new if not new-in-box seats) but with 3 months in Switzerland, we decided to bring our own, and also had to bring the stroller. So we had a ton of stuff! Very grateful to Grandbarb and Pop who helped us get to the airport... yes... in two cars! A+ Limo service even included watching the kiddos while Grant and I got the bags checked in -- thank you guys!

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On the topic of gear, just days before our travels began I discovered Yvolution Backpack Scooter on Amazon ($42-60) from a fellow member of the Facebook Group Tiny Globetrotters. Knowing that on this leg of the journey the girls will likely want something to ride around as we explore the beach boardwalk and Spring Lake, I ordered two and their reaction upon arrival was worth shelling out a last minute $100! The girls were thrilled! The backpack is the perfect size and pops right off to be used for their new school, can act as a rolling backpack which the girls did down the plane aisle no problem, and can be stored in the overhead compartment no problem (though we did lower graces handle bars for this.) As they are still maturing in their ability, they are honestly slower and steadier -- not running off like they would without the responsibility of caring from their scooter -- and the backpack has the perfect amount of space for all of the lovies, snacks and wrapped prizes from the Target Dollar Spot I had to bring... oh and of course also the ipad. 

In my last post I laid out a list of apps we were downloading for our journey along with the requisite Daniel Tiger, Super Monsters (on Netflix), Super Why! and other shows, but one element I forgot to mention was headphones. Grace has never had a problem keeping kid-size headphone on, except for when she wants to go to sleep on the plane and they fall off and often wake her from her sleepiness. Emery on the other hand is so wriggly there has never been any hope and usually we let her watch with a low volume. Our girls only get ipads when traveling, so they are glued to the devices on flights, with happy holding thanks to the Lieo Ipad Case ($16) that has "arms" perfect for toddler hands to hold or the arms can be folded back in the seat back pocket and secured for viewing, also stable enough to stand on its own on the tray table. They're bulky so I don't love the look, but functionally they are a home run. To solve for the headphone issue, I discovered the headband/earwarmer headphones that both girls LOVED last night. Racking up another $15 per kiddo (I am all for investing in travel buddies here, Grant, please don't do the math!!) the CozyPhones were amazing - both girls loved wearing them and the phones stayed secure. We received so many compliments on our completely full flight, keeping the girls happy as can be!

The only other gear I specifically can't live without when traveling with two toddlers is my amazing, favorite piece of gear of all time the Zoe XL2 Double Umbrella Stroller. It folds so compactly and is everything you need. We don't use any of the add ons like the lap bar, drink holders, etc. anymore to be more streamlined, but we are so in love with the storage below and sturdiness of the canopies (yes, I have balanced everything from donuts to duffle bags on top when needed!) The bright colors (we have purple) mean you can always spot it and it truly is just the best of the best investment we have ever made (and we have tried every stroller! The stroller has been to so many cities and countries with us and is durable as can be, you can tell it was invented by parents! Finally the last two pieces are mommy clips/hooks for the strollers and very specifically these travel duffles (we brought 4 on this trip!) which fold up small, hold a lot, and are so sturdy - its amazing they are $12! 

Tips: #1. Dress your kids cute. Yes, comfortable, but I swear if I have big bows in their hair and something embroidered on their dresses, everyone oohs and ahhs and somehow doesn't mind the mid-flight squeals when Peppa Pig comes on the ipad AND they get to enjoy Annie's Bunny Snacks at the same time! #2. Keep the monsters...I mean Toddlers... apart! Emery flew with Grant and a few rows back, I flew with Grace. Having two adults meant we could keep them apart so they weren't fighting over who-was-watching-what-on-which-ipad or snacks or touching in general. They both got our indivdiual attention for 6 straight hours which is heaven to a 2 year old, and we each only had to manage the needs of one kiddo - it was great! When I fly solo with the girls, I usually put Grace (let's be honest, she is way better behaved at this stage) across the aisle from me. After A/B testing the method at least two dozen times, apart is way better than together!

Grant is now off at Ryan's Bachelor party in Maryland while the girls and I enjoy the beach (okay it is rainy but...) and catching up with extended family and having two of my best girlfriends come for a visit before we head on to Switzerland this coming Monday! Stay tuned, the #SwissFamilyAllen Adventure is about to takeoff for year #2!