Monday, March 12, 2012


Here is another post catching up on what has been going during my silence on the blogsphere. Probably not really all that interesting or thrilling for anyone other then myself, (and probably my mom!) but I want it recorded for my memory later on down the road.

We spent Thanksgiving in middle Tennessee this year with my family. It was the first Thanksgiving I have had back home since we were married - we have either spent the day in Knoxville with Jared's family, or with my dad's side of the family in the Tri-Cities of TN. Thank goodness we did, otherwise, thanks to my bed rest, I would not have spent any of the Holidays with my side of the family.

Most of the aunts, uncles, and cousins on my mom's side of the family gathered at my Nanny and PopPop Ambrogi's  (Italian much?) house for way too much food! The first year Jared spent a holiday with this part of my family, he thought the horderves were the actual meal. I could make an entire meal out of my Nanny's roasted peppers - YUM!

After the meal, it was a toss up who's belly was bigger...

Looks like I definitely had everyone beat!:)

Jared and Mary Grace

My baby brother, Christopher

Unfortunately she is not wearing heels, and I am not stooping down.
And that would be Christopher in the background:)

Mary Grace, me, Nanny, my mom, and my sister-in-law, Jenny

Thanksgiving weekend was also my birthday weekend, so we celebrated with my favorite dishes and immediate family... and of course, a few gifts.:)

my mom and sister were just a tad obsessed with my belly... and touching it

We were back in Middle TN a few weekends later for my shower. Afterwards,  the family was kind enough to indulge my desire to go to the Opryland Hotel to see all the Christmas decorations. Most of our family Christmas pictures were taken there as child.

Back in the day..
Ha ha, we were pretty stinking cute

Years later...
Me and my youngest brother, Christopher

Elliott Siblings, All grown up
Mary Grace, me, Christopher, Matthew, and Daniel

In-laws, Jenny and Jared, as the bookend additions

My Amazing Parents!

The boys were very disappointed in the Lion's Head Fountain

This was a very different Christmas Holiday for us - with the upcoming baby, bed rest, travel restriction, etc... In my family, growing up, the focus was very much on the true meaning for the season - Christ's birth. Decorations, gifts, and other holiday traditions were very much minimalized. Which I like. It made the focus much more about the birth of Jesus, as well as just spending time as a family. Now, regardless of how Christmas is spent/celebrated, I always enjoy it, and don't feel sad or like I am missing such sentimental family traditions, etc... I do, however, like to make it a  special and meaningful time.

We had had a very busy fall, as we do most years, with the college ministry. Therefore, we usually save  all our Christmas shopping and decorating for December (and often times for the week before!) Of course, we did this again this year, but quickly had to change our plans... I wasn't about to go out in the Christmas shopping aisle traffic jams being pushed in a wheel chair! Luckily, with my big family we just draw names, so we only had two gifts to find, and since they were for my Mom and sister (again this year!) it was dear, sweet Etsy to the rescue! Its a good thing I came off bed rest when I did - otherwise, I could have spent our life savings on that one website! Jared's family is smaller, and we only "gift" immediate family. Both families were very understanding about our situation, so thankfully there was no pressure in the gift department. It was gift cards for everyone!:) I had known what I was getting Jared for months already, and luckily, it could be purchased and gift wrapped via on-line purchasing!

I had already decided, even before the being put on bed rest, that I wasn't going to decorate for Christmas. I have a BAD habit of loving the the decor so much I don't take it down until well into January. I may have even been known to be taking down the Christmas time on Valentine's Day. Again, emphasis on the maybe. Luckily, this decision was made and kept... otherwise, we may still have decorations up!:)

We spent Christmas Eve-Eve:) with Jared's dad's side of the family. We don't get to see them very much, but this year all the cousins, aunts, and uncles were present, and we all had a very nice time visiting and catching up. Next Christmas there will be three little ones crawling around the Christmas tree - exciting!

A new family tradition I have enjoyed since joining Jared's family is the Christmas Eve service at our church. It was my first "public" outing since going on bed rest. I was very thankful to be able to get out and see people! It was also night to create some new memories for this service. Last year, I was in a pretty dark place emotionally with the infertility stuff. I had just found out I was yet again not pregnant, and we were told at the end of the service some of our dear friends were expecting a baby that spring. Christmas seems to be especially hard for anyone who is longing for a baby. The Christian theme centers around a baby, Jesus, as well as his mother... two things you want and long to be - a baby and a mom. Plus, its about children - the childlike wonder of all things sparkly, magical, and exciting. Those still waiting don't get to take part in Elf on the Shelf activities, don't buy presents for their kids, don't have kids waking them up early Christmas morning, etc.. Its just tough. If you have any friends who are longing for a baby around the Holidays, please be especially kind and tender towards them.

It was such a quietly special evening for me. I thought of, and related, to Mary, the mother of Jesus, so much this past December. She took these things and pondered them in her heart, totally described my state of being. There was so much going on, and coming alive inside me, emotionally as well as physically. It is safe to say I had tears in my eyes during every carol we sang, in celebration of the birth of Christ.

Here we are at our church after the service

We spent Christmas morning as just the two of us... sleeping in!:) He got a me tripod for my cameras! I am so excited to start using it! That's right, its still in the box. I am not a fan of pictures of myself, however, I do want my little girl to be able to look back one day and see pictures of the two of us together. Having a tripod will help with this I think. So far, we have had enough family and friends around visiting that have been willing to take pictures for us.

Oh, I also got a swanky electric blanket!:) My husband so hoped my internal thermostat would change while I was pregnant, but no such luck. I froze every night, like I always do, and he suffocated under all the blankets I would pile on our bed. Some of our friends were talking about a heated mattress they had and how it "saved" their marriage.:)  Jared couldn't find the mattress pad, so went with the blanket option. It has a preheat setting that he would turn on for me every night so that the sheets on my side of the bed were nice and toasty by the time I crawled into bed.

Here is a picture of  my gift to him:

After opening our gifts from each other, we enjoyed a nice quiet brunch with Jared's immediate family. Then it was off to his grandparents to celebrate the day with his mom's side of the family. After that we went back to Jared's parents house to open family gifts. Below are pictures of the two of us as we were leaving his parents house. It had been the busiest weekend I had in a month, and I was wicked exhausted. All I wanted to do at this point was crawl in to bed!

My mom, dad, and two youngest siblings stopped by our house on their way home from visiting my Dad's family in the Tri-Cities to see us and finish up our gift exchange.

We are so incredibly blessed to be able to celebrate these times with our wonderful families so effortlessly. I am so thankful our parents don't put pressure on us to be with both sides of the family for all the holidays. I want our kids to appreciate the importance of quality family time during the holidays, and our parents respect that wish. 

Everyone kept reminding us to enjoy the quiet holidays, as it would be our last without a little one to running around.:)

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