4 Ways to Celebrate Advent with a Toddler
Christmas Traditions with a Toddler
 

ad·vent /ˈadˌvent/ noun

  1. the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event.

    • the first season of the Christian church year, leading up to Christmas and including the four preceding Sundays.

With the holidays looming around the corner, I’ve really been thinking of traditions for us to start with Evelyn. Between Drew and I, our families are stock piled with traditions. All of which we love, but we aren’t sure if they are all ones that we want to continue with Evelyn. So which ones stay, which ones go, and what traditions do we start on our own? We aren’t big “Elf of the Shelf” people so we had to sit down and talk about this.

The advent season is very important to our family. On my side, we always had paper chains that we made to start the countdown to Christmas. In Drew’s family, they would always get their chocolate advent calendars. Actually, my mother-in-law still gets us chocolate advent calendars every year from Trader Joe’s.

When pondering about how we were going to celebrate the season of advent with our toddler, we wanted to keep it fun, festive, creative, and spiritual. I am absolutely dedicated to her understanding the “reason for the season”, but I realize it’s also a time for family and fun. It’s okay to get excited about Santa, presents, and food as long as we remember why we get to do all of those things.

Christmas Pajamas

One tradition we are tweaking is my parent’s tradition to give us new pajamas on Christmas Eve. I love getting our new pajamas on Christmas Eve, it was the one present we got to open the night before and it was just fun! However, as a mom now, I wonder why we would want to wait to give Evelyn Christmas Themed pajamas to wear on the last night of the season. So we are going to start our Christmas pajama wearing season on Thanksgiving night! We decorate our house the day after Thanksgiving (no thanks Black Friday, I’m not brave enough!), so it just makes sense for our family to kick of the season of advent by wearing our Christmas Pajamas. Maybe as she gets older and is no longer wearing Christmas themed PJs (teenagers probably won’t be interested in wearing Santa pajamas), we can switch back to Christmas Eve.

Paper Chains Craft

I also loved making paper chains as a kid. We did them for trips, holidays, back to school, everything! With a toddler like Evelyn, constantly needing to be kept busy these days, I think this is a perfect tradition (until she’s over it) to keep her occupied while Thanksgiving dinner is being prepared. Then every morning, she can look forward to tearing a chain off. Plus it’s fairly mess free and easily transportable. She can do this with her other cousins and create memories of being creative and spending time with her family where ever we end up on Turkey Day.

Advent Calendar - Toddler Approved

We really want her to get into the love we have for chocolate advent calendars. Drew and I get stupid giddy about opening up our piece of chocolate in the morning. Unfortunately, so far anyways, Evelyn has shown NO INTEREST in sweets. We can get her to have a bite of yogurt or ice cream occasionally but we can’t get her to try anything else. So she’s not quite ready for a chocolate advent calendar. Luckily, a quick search on google showed me THE BEST advent calendar for a toddler ever!!!!! Behold, the Little People Advent Calendar! Evelyn is going to go nuts for this. I am a little nervous at trying to get her to understand that she can only open 1 door a day, but I’m sure we will manage. This is so stinkin’ perfect and fun! It’s going to be her first introduction to the Little People world. I’m sure by next year, Evelyn will be ready to enjoy a regular chocolate advent calendar like Drew and I but until then, this will fill in perfectly! P.S. If you want one, they are on Amazon right now and I’d order it ASAP. I saw them on eBay for $80 bucks or more!

Spiritual Advent - The Giving Manger

Lastly, the most important part of advent, is to remember that we are celebrating this day because of Jesus. I got The Giving Manger before I was even pregnant. This book, baby Jesus, wooden manger, and straw helps families focus on the servitude of Christmas. To teach your children compassion, gratitude, empathy, and discipleship. It can start off easy, putting a piece of straw in the manger cause you listened to mommy the first time. As your family grows older, putting a piece of straw in for bringing in the trashcans, helping a neighbor, or volunteer work together. I’m so excited to see Evelyn participate in this part of advent every year. This girl already has such a big heart, I know she’s going to love it. If you want to order one for your family, do it soon! They are already sold out of half their inventory this season so don’t wait!

Watching life through Evelyn’s eyes has turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Things that I forgot were truly exciting (yes, even bubbles) look totally different now that I see them through Evelyn’s amazement. While I am excited to see her reaction to all of these new traditions and experiences, I hope she grasps the true meaning of this time of year. The meaning of faithfulness, family togetherness, and gratitude.

What traditions are you starting with your toddler for the advent season?

This post contains some affiliated links, however I wouldn’t recommend anything I don’t already love!

 
Nicole Abejon
Halloween Activities with Evelyn
 

I have been so excited about holidays now that Evelyn is a little older. To be honest, I am not a fan of the typical holiday season (Halloween - Christmas). Plus, my dad passed around Christmas. I do love all the holidays other holidays (New Years Eve - Fourth of July). They are just less stressful. No months of prep and making huge plans, no excess travel among the masses, etc. However, this year, the idea of seeing these holidays through Evelyn’s eyes has me more excited for them than I usually am.

I think most moms want traditions for their children. I remember the same reindeer bean bag dolls coming out every year at Christmas time, the same Frankenstein paper decor at Halloween, and of course, the fan turkey centerpiece at Thanksgiving. I don’t remember when I stopped caring about those decorations, but I do remember them every year and I want that for Evelyn.

This is a great “test run” year for us. She’s much more aware of things but if we try some things that don’t work out, she won’t remember next year.

One tradition I’d love to start with her is a visit to the Irvine Regional Park Pumpkin Patch. I actually have taken her a few times since it’s free and it keeps her entertained. While I love this pumpkin patch, I don’t love the crowds it creates as we get closer to Halloween. I highly recommend checking this place out in early October. You can go to the pumpkin patch, ride the train and visit the OC Zoo for a few more dollars. It’s a full day and its inexpensive, unless you buy all your pumpkins there. We hit up Trader Joe’s on the way home. Next year Evelyn will be able to play more of the games and enjoy the animals a little more.

Pumpkin Patch - 2018.jpg

The next event we did, that will for sure become a Halloween tradition for us, was visit the City of Orange’s Treats in the Street event. We don’t live in Orange, but this event made me want to move there. First, it was free which is crazy to me. Irvine had an event at the Great Park that we paid $5 for and it was such a waste of time that I won’t even bother writing about it and we took a few awful photos and that was it. This event in Orange was just awesome. We got there right at 4PM and parking was already getting busy. After about an hour of Trick or Treating at the local stores, Evelyn had the whole concept figured out. She had a good stash and so we grabbed some dinner. When we got out of the restaurant, it was packed and almost every store had a line to get some candy. So we decided to just check out some of the booths and watch some of the shows and let Evelyn do what Evelyn does best, draw a crowd.

Treats in the Streets - Old Towne Orange 1 - 2018.jpg

I love how quickly this kid caught onto, “go to a stranger and take some candy.” We did practice at the house beforehand and I told her she had to knock on the door. So regardless of where the person who was actually handing out candy was sitting/standing…Evelyn would walk up to the door and knock and then go grab candy. We let her try to eat a few pieces of candy but she wanted no part of it. No clue where she gets that self control.

Treats in the Streets - Old Towne Orange 2 - 2018.jpg

I can’t say enough of the Treats in the Streets though. It was a great experience for us, who are unfamiliar with the area. I definitely see us heading back there to shop those stores, grab a bite to eat and celebrate other community events there.

If you can’t tell, she is a Witch this Halloween. However, so far she has given the hat a hard “NO”.

Treats in the Streets - Old Towne Orange 3 - 2018.jpg

Watching Evelyn learn how to Trick or Treat, watching her reaction to seeing other people in costumes (ask me about what she did when she saw another little girl dressed as Elmo), seeing her face explore the decorations on some local haunted houses, and her and her daddy carving her own pumpkin has been way more special than I anticipated. I am very wary but I’m starting to have some hope for the rest of the holidays.

Evelyn Halloween Pajamas - 2018.jpg

I can’t wait to see how she does on the actual Halloween night. We are going to let her stay up a little late and answer the door for a few trick-or-treaters. My guess is that will be her favorite part.

Evelyn’s Pajamas are from Carters available at Amazon.

Her Halloween tote is from Little Partridge on Etsy. (She’s currently closed but maybe email her and ask pretty please!)


This post contains some affiliated links, however I wouldn’t recommend anything I don’t feel I don’t already love!

 
Pumpkin Spice Pecan Bread
 

If you know me personally, you know I don’t really drink caffeine. The closest I get to drinking a caffeinated drink, is the occasional Dr. Pepper. So when Fall comes around, and everyone is going nuts for Pumpkin Spiced Lattes at Starbucks, I’m just not one of those people. However, I do get excited for this! I look forward to Williams Sonoma’s Spiced Pecan Pumpkin Bread mix. This stuff is ridiculous and if you haven’t tried it yet, do yourself a huge favor and go get it!

It’s so delicious and so easy! I always add extra pecans on ours since we love them. You also need eggs, water, and butter. That’s it!

Pumpkin Spiced Bread Recipe

They also sell this pumpkin butter, its so rich and delectable. It turns the bread into a dessert instantly. However Drew and I love this bread as a breakfast item. So we keep it simple with warming it up with butter and coffee or tea. I once made it with a cream cheese frosting, oh my dear Lord. It’s heaven.

Pumpkin Spiced Bread Recipe

So while most basic babes are wearing their patterned chunky scarfs, with their boots, at the pumpkin patch sipping on their Pumpkin Spice Lattes, I’ll be over here in southern California in flip flops, shorts, at the beach, eating some soft spiced pecan pumpkin bread for breakfast!

 
It's Fall Ya'll!
 

Are you one of those people who puts out the fall decor the day after Labor Day? Or does fall start when you can purchase your favorite pumpkin-y drink at your local coffee shop? Or, do you wait till it’s the official start of Autumn which is September 22nd, 2018 this year.

I’m pretty sad to see summer end. Especially in Southern California where fall is basically an extended version of summer. It was in the 90’s yesterday. With Evelyn much more active this year however, I am anxious to start a few seasonal traditions with her. Drew and I talked about some activities we want to do with her and I created a little bucket list for us.

So I created this pretty download that I plan to frame and keep in our kitchen to remind of us all the activities we need to make time for. It’s so easy to let daily life keep you from doing important family activities. Sometimes we just need a reminder.

I’ve decided also to make this a downloadable so that maybe it will help you keep those family memory-making activities at the forefront of your brain. Just sign up below and you’ll be emailed your free printable PDF!

Free Downloadable Fall Autumn Bucket List

Do you have some autumn traditions not listed on our list? What are some must-dos for you and your family this time of year?

Hope you guys find it helpful this fall, and don’t forget to tag us and use hashtag #delovelydetails in your pictures of you displaying your bucket list! I can’t wait to see them!

 
Nicole Abejon
Happy Birthday Minnie!
 

One of the many positive experiences I've had since becoming a mom has been all the "mom friends" I've made. Some of them have been friends that I've reconnected with due to our fellow "momhood", some have been through my industry, and others have been complete strangers. One of those moms is Amber, who also works in the wedding industry at Shutterfly, and her sweet daughter Minnie, who is just a little younger than Evelyn. I was so excited when Amber asked if we could be a part of Minnie's special day! We came up with this adorable custom cake topper and everything fell together perfectly.

Custom Cake Topper

Minnie seemed to know exactly what to do with the most gorgeous smash cake ever from Bex Bakes, unlike Evelyn, and dove right in. She's still such a lady though. That gorgeous blue dress from Joy Marie Clothing matches her eyes perfectly! Add in a floral crown from Florabella and I'm pretty much goo over here. 

Custom Cake Topper

Corinne McCombs Photography did an amazing job capturing the essence of this darling girl. Thank you so much for letting us be a part of your celebration! We are so glad we got to be the topper on the cake. We hope you had a happy birthday sweet Minnie girl! 

Custom Cake Topper - First Birthday

I fell in love with this simple design we did for Minnie's cake topper and so we've decided to add it to our shop! If you've got a birthday coming up, place your order now!

Photography: Corrine McCombs Photography

Florals: Florabella

Cake: Bex Bakes

Dress: Joy Marie Clothing

Cake Topper: Delovely Details

 

 
Balance.
 
 Evelyn's bow is from  Loved by Sophia Claire  & her onsie is from  Jean & June

Evelyn's bow is from Loved by Sophia Claire & her onsie is from Jean & June

As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I panicked about how to find a balance between the "family life" I wanted my child to have and the business that had become my other "baby". For years, I had put my all into my company but I knew that things were going to have to change. I figured I would work to create a balance and we would all live happily ever after.

Looking back on it, I was pretty naive about the whole thing. There is a reason there are a million books, TV specials, podcasts, and a bazillion other blog posts dedicated to women trying to find a balance. For me, at this point in our journey, I've decided there is no balance. It's awful to hear that I'm sure, but realizing that there was no "balanced life" to chase anymore has been incredibly freeing to me. 

I've realized that the days of going to bed at midnight aren't even close to being over. Even though Evelyn has slept through most nights from 12 weeks, my work is what keeps us up till the wee hours in the morning. And that's not going to change anytime soon. Just like Evelyn's 7AM wake up call in the morning. 

There are going to be some days where I'm going to be a better mom than a business woman, just like there are going to be days where I'm a kick-ass business woman and a minimally patient mom. But what I have decided, is that I will be intentional about my time. 

When I am with my daughter, I will be dedicated to making that time "quality time" with her. I won't be checking my cell phone while she's distracted, I won't be answering emails while she eats her lunch. I will be there to soak it all up and let her know that for that moment, I am all hers. 

Unfortunately, there are times where I can't be that. It's sucky to write that and I wish I could always be there. But I have also realized that by pursuing my dreams and showing her what determination and dedication looks like, it's beneficial for her too. Even though, let's be real, it won't always feel like that. But, just like I said earlier, I am going be intentional with my time in my business as well. I am working to become more streamline, more efficient and more organized. I am also limiting the amount of projects I take on that don't directly impact my business positively. 

My time has always been valuable but now that I have Evelyn, where every day, hour, minute seems like she's growing in front of my eyes, it's invaluable. I want to be a good mother but I can't kill myself trying to be a perfect mom and a perfect business woman 24 hours a day because I won't do well at either if I try that.

If you are a business owner and momma, how are you handling the "balance". Anyone have any tips? 

 
Updated and Upgraded
 

It's been awhile huh? It's also been pretty crazy. In the last year, we've moved into a new project house and had a baby. You know, a couple of small changes. To say we over estimated our abilities to juggle, is a complete understatement.

Parenthood is hard guys. Especially when you have a business, or at least it is in my case. However, after a year of our new normal, we think we are finally getting the hang of things. So since we had a bit of an update, we thought it was time for a bit of an upgrade.

We have some new things that are quite obvious, such as the new look and the new website. We also have some new things that will slowly roll out. So we hope you guys stick around, cause it is going to be pretty fun. Plus, it's always fun around a toddler, right?

 

 
Nicole AbejonComment
Evelyn's Arrival - Part 2
 

If you missed the first part of this story, you can find it here.

Since it was decided that I needed to deliver Evelyn but I wasn’t yet in active labor, I was going to have to be induced. Definitely not what I had pictured. I was hoping to be at home for my labor as long as possible. That wasn’t going to happen but it didn’t even matter at this point. All that mattered was Evelyn and her health.

However, unlike a lot of induction birth stories, this won’t be a long story because it wasn’t a long ordeal. It was actually super fast, much to everyone’s surprise!

By the time they got me into a room and set me up, it was around 6:30PM but at that point, I had to wait for the doctor to place an order for me and for it to be filled. This was the most frustrating part of my entire labor.

They started with a foley around 10 PM and said it could take up to 12 hours for that to work. I opted to take a sleeping pill (safe for baby) and wait it out. Those last few weeks of pregnancy are practically torture when it comes to sleep. I had not slept a full night for at least 3 weeks at this point. Well, after only 6 hours, I was dilated enough to start pitocin. Around 6AM they broke my water, which there wasn’t much of, and started the pitocin drip. They told me it could be another 12 hours of the pitocin to get me to active labor so we decided to just sleep as much as possible.

Now I was always open to letting my labor play out however it was going to go. I wanted to try to see if I could go natural but I was totally ready to ask for pain meds. After about 1.5 hours of serious contractions, I went ahead and asked for an epidural. The pitocin was on the lowest setting but after only about 4 hours of it, my body completely took over and went into labor itself and I was able to stop the pitocin around 10AM and my natural labor took over.

Based on how I was dilating at this point, they told me it would probably be around 9PM for me to start to push. We told family and friends not to rush over there and that we were settled in for the long haul.

Literally 2.5 hours later, I woke up from a nap and told Drew I felt pressure. He asked if I wanted him to get a nurse but I said “no way, they said it wouldn’t be till later.” Luckily, he didn’t listen to me because as soon as a nurse came in, she was like “oh my, the baby is right there. Hold on, everyone’s on lunch. We gotta get a midwife back in here!”

Okay, I’ll just stay here lady…

We waited a little bit and they prepped me. I started to push and only ended up pushing for 15/20 minutes. They kept asking if I wanted to feel her head…nope. No thanks. Did I want a mirror to see…nope. I’m good. But then they asked me if I wanted to reach down and pull her out onto my chest. I am NOT the person that would say yes to this…but I did. I was so anxious. I didn’t even say yes actually, I just grabbed her and brought her up to my chest.

Feeling her precious body on mine, and wrapping my arms around her tiny soul is something I will never forget. She didn’t cry at first, she just looked at me. She seriously looked at me like she had been waiting this whole time to see me, the way I had waited this whole time to meet her. They say love at first sight exists, and it does. I saw her and felt every single fiber in my body realize the entire and only reason for our existence. It was to be Evelyn’s mommy. I stared at my beautiful daughter and she just started at me. At this incredibly tender moment, the only thing I could manage to say was “hi baby, I love you so much”. It was so basic, but that was all it needed to be. I have to be honest here and say that I had been more than just worried about my motherly instincts and if I was going to be able to be the mom this baby needed me to be during my pregnancy. Drew was always so reassuring and just kept telling me how great of a mom I would be. But I was still worried. But seeing that babe, every single shred of insecurity melted away. I knew that my life would be spent doing whatever I could do to ensure that my daughter had a great life. There is no way to accurately describe how the first look into your child’s eyes, changes you.

They started to rub her down while she was on my chest and that made her cry. I was trying to shush her when I remembered something I had seen. Drew read stories to my belly every single night, he sang his favorite oldie songs, he talked to her about his favorite cars and planes. I looked at Drew, who at this point was just ear to ear smiling, but I could tell he was unsure of what to do. I told him “talk to her babe.” Drew got down to her, she was wailing at this point, and said her name. “Evelyn.” As precious of a moment as I just had with her, I watched my husband have that moment with his daughter. She instantly stopped crying and just looked at him. I could see this man change. I saw everything about him change and become a daddy.

We got our golden hour, which was more like 2 hours. We just took it all in as we minute by minute became more of a family. I still can’t believe it all happened. Looking at her, Drew and I could only keep talking about how perfect she was and how we can’t believe she was finally here. It’s been four months and we are still constantly saying “I can’t believe she’s ours” and “I can’t believe how perfect she is”. It is amazing that two incredibly imperfect people, could make something so perfect.

My recovery was fairly easy thankfully! My only problem was that I got a “wet tap” on my epidural. Basically, the anesthesiologist leaked some of my spinal fluid and so my brain sat on my skull. It was actually pretty brutal. And there is nothing you can do to fix it except a blood patch occasionally will help, but it didn’t work in my case. It’s been four months and I still get those spinal headaches from time to time but those first couple weeks were a doozy and I had to stay two extra nights at the hospital.

So that’s it. That’s my story. Overall, I had a really rough pregnancy but I feel like things evened out because I had such an easy delivery once it was time. It was not at all how I pictured it but I am just so grateful my daughter is here and healthy. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

 
Nicole Abejon
Evelyn's Arrival - Part 1
 

Time is just speeding by and Evelyn is 4 months already. I want to make sure I type this story out before I forget it. I never thought I would be one to share this, but here goes. So if birth stories aren’t your thing (they were never my thing until I had a baby, go figure) skip these next posts.

June 21st, in the late evening, I sat down to do my “kick count”. It was kind of a joke to do the kick count because my little mover would never take more than 10 minutes to get all 10 kicks. Except that night it took almost an hour. It was strange and unlike our kiddo who just the night before was kicking like crazy. I tried not to let it bother me too much and be that crazy first time mom. I was worried but I told myself that maybe she was just sleeping or running out of room.

The next morning I was getting ready to head to the studio to get things done and also to finish shopping for a birthday party we were attending that weekend, I was a bit frazzled to try and get it all done. As I was getting ready, Drew called and asked if I had felt the baby move at all. I was in such a rush to get ready, I hadn’t realized I had not felt her move. At this point, I went into full blown panic mode and skipped the “cup of juice” they tell you to drink to get the baby to move and went for the bowl of ice cream instead. I was going to give this kid the biggest rush of cold/sugar I could to get to her to start moving. It took 2 hours to get her to 7 kicks so I immediately called labor and delivery. I was just shy of 39 weeks pregnant at this point and so they told me to come in immediately. I didn’t realize this meant we could potential come home with our daughter. I was just anxious to make sure she was alright.

I was trying to stay calm so I texted Drew that they want me to come and that they said he should probably come with me. Drew usually takes 15 minutes to get home from work. He was home in about 5 minutes that day. I don’t even want to know how he did that. Once he got home, he started to load up the car and wanted to rush and get there. I did my best to stay calm and relax, there was a better chance that everything was fine and that I was going to be sent home.

As soon as we got in, they got me into a monitoring room.They checked the heartbeat and it was still strong. Whew. I might have even cried when I heard it. So they decided to do an NST. Non-Stress-test and they explained to me that as long as we saw rolling hills on the mointors and no straight lines, that everything was fine and I was going home. The test lasts about 40 minutes. The first 20 had rolling hills, and I was starting to get anxious. I was grateful things were looking good but I knew something wasn’t right. My daughter went from one extreme to the other in less than 24 hours. Even though I didn’t “know” my daughter, I knew her! And this wasn’t like her. The second 20 minutes was a straight line. The nurse came in and saw the test results and said I was going home.

 

I was stunned and honestly, I was scared. I hate telling people they are wrong but something wasn’t right and my daughter’s well being was in the balance. Now they always say, “mother knows best”. And at this point in my pregnancy, I realized that I knew best for my child and I wasn’t going to let anyone tell me otherwise. Including professionals.

I think the nurse realized that I wasn’t happy and I asked to speak with a doctor. The doctor came in and agreed it wasn’t a great result but that it was still okay. I told her I was uncomfortable with going home because I felt like something was wrong. Luckily this doctor was awesome and didn’t hesitate or make me feel silly. She asked if an ultrasound would reassure me and I said it would. As soon as the image came up and we saw our Evelyn on the monitor, the doctor said “oh, you’re having this baby today.” Even though deep down I knew this was a possibility, I was still stunned when I heard this.

Apparently, there is supposed to be 5 cm of amniotic fluid around the baby. Evelyn was down to less than 2 cm. At some point, I had a slow leak in my water and I just didn’t notice. To my defense, it was super hot and I probably just thought I was sweaty like I had been my entire 3rd trimester. I had even joked the week before to Drew that I thought I was leaking amniotic fluid. He asked if I wanted to go to the hospital but I was determined not to be “that” woman who confuses gas for labor. First timer here, didn’t realize I actually was right and probably should have gone to the hospital! Oops! I wasn’t in active labor but Evelyn was running out of fluid to move around in. At 39 weeks, there is no reason to risk infection and leave the baby in. So it was time to meet our kiddo!

I’ll take a break at this point but I do want to say, I am so grateful that those mommy instincts kicked in. When it comes to doctors, I’m usually very compliant and non argumentative but I’m so grateful that I spoke up. I don’t even want to imagine if I went home and never said anything. I was worried I didn’t have those “instincts” but they are there apparently!

 
Nicole AbejonComment