Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last post of the decade

The first New Year's Eve I remember I was between 8 and 11. I'm not sure what year it was. What I remember is my exuberant friend, Mary Beth, coming over to spend the night. She said we should go outside on the back porch at midnight and shout HAP-PY NEW YEAR!!! to the neighborhood. Most of them were probably sleeping. But we shouted it. We shouted and laughed and giggled and shouted and then went back inside to enjoy the rest of our sleepover, whispering and giggling loudly until my mom probably made us sleep in separate rooms. It's been known to happen.


A review of the past decade:

2000: I was 15 years old and had my first real boyfriend.
2001: Junior in high school. Thought I wanted to be in the military.
2002: Graduated high school, met my future husband, started college, dropped out of ROTC.
2003: Got engaged.
2004: Married Jordan.
2005: Amazing year of marriage, just hanging out, finishing college with no kids.
2006: Graduated with a BA in psych and got my first job.
2007: Suzi was born, and we bought our first house and first car.
2008: Dreamed of having another baby and quitting work.
2009: Did both of the above.

I learned a lot over this past decade, and most of it was learned outside the classroom. Jordan and I both learned a lot about money (how to not waste it, primarily). Our girls have taught us so much, too. There have been some heartaches (not listed) that we've learned from and it's helped me realize that usually a crappy situation is God shaping us into the most beautiful version of ourselves--the way we should be.

Goals for 2010:
1) Keep breastfeeding for the whole year and then some, as I said in my previous post.
2) Make more things out of clay.
3) Sell more of the things I make and/or figure out something good to do with them.
4) Pay off our van early. (We might not finish this off until 2011, but we'd like to make some major headway.)

Hopes and dreams for the coming decade:
1) Have more children.
2) Homeschool them.
3) Add on a garage and a couple of extra rooms to our house, or (maybe) move to a new one.
4) Grow more, learn more, and make more of a difference in the lives of others.


Tonight I am having a slumber party with another exuberant little girl. We tried to put her to bed, but she cried and cried. She wanted Mama, she wanted Daddy, she had to pee, and when she'd tried every trick in the book plus some new ones she started over at the top of her list. Finally we agreed we'd bring her back downstairs so we could all welcome 2010 as a (happy) family. Hopefully she will be asleep by midnight. Right now she is holding onto the back of her daddy's shirttail as he tries to walk Ivey to sleep. Ivey's fat little hand is holding on to Jordan's necklace as if to dare him to try and put her down. I will probably nurse Ivey 10 or 11 more times tonight. Suzi will probably wake her up two or three more times talking too loud saying things like look Mama, a bagel! Look! Look! Look! LOOK! The Christmas tree is still up with the lights on, and our girls are up too. It's definitely not how I ever imagined spending New Year's Eve, especially not ten years ago. But it feels good.

We've got the snot

Everyone here is sleeping right now, but me.

We are all home in our pajamas enjoying the crappiest Christmas gift ever: a feverish cough, cold and congestion. (Unfortunately non-returnable.) It was a surprise gift, hitting us suddenly rather than coming on gradually the way some colds do. Suzi and I even had friends over yesterday and now I feel like a jerk, but I honestly didn't know it would turn into this. Suzi was feeling awful last night with a fever reaching 103 or so, which did thankfully come down, and a barky cough. Ivey hasn't had much of a fever at all, but she's got the cough and snot going on and whenever we put her down she fusses to be held again. Jordan and I don't quite have it yet but we can feel it coming on and figure it can't be long. I am just thankful this is happening now and not during Christmas.

I don't have much experience with sick kids, so I wondered what to do and when to call the doctor (we haven't so far, which is okay according to Dr. Sears). I'd rather leave the doctor out of it if possible to avoid scaring Suzi, taking the girls out in the cold and exposing them to more and possibly worse illness in the waiting room. I called Grandma instead last night and she came over and held Suzi for hours. We've got the cool-mist humidifier going and it seems to have helped. It was such a relief when Suzi woke up smiling this morning and not crying.

So now Suzi is napping on the couch and Jordan and Ivey are napping on the new beanbag on our new rug. I would probably be asleep too, but it isn't the safest cosleeping setup for Ivey so I am keeping an eye on them. Ivey will probably be awakened shortly by some snot and then it will be time to nurse her again. Poor thing. I wish I could still nurse Suzi. It was stupid to let her wean. There's my first New Year's resolution: Keep nursing Ivey. All year and then some and then some.

Baby's crying. Might do a review of the past decade/year post or something like that a little later. I hope everyone else is having a good New Year's Eve.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What should I put on my iPod?

My sweet mom got me just what I wanted for Christmas: this pretty little green iPod. When these things originally came out, what, six or seven years ago? I scoffed at them. No way would I ever buy something so expensive and frivolous. I was totally cool with my portable CD player. But over the years I warmed up to the idea of having an iPod, and their prices cooled down, and now I have one. I'd never actually held one, so when I got it and removed it from the packaging, it scared me how small it was. So thin! It was like holding a new baby. I carefully placed it back in the box and Jordan said oh, don't worry, you won't hurt it. (He has an iPod Touch for work, which he uses for email and stuff.) He kept trying to get me to put it in my pocket but I wouldn't until I had a case for it. Even now I don't like doing that for fear I'll forget it's in there and wash it.

I got an FM tuner for it so I can listen to it in the car, and also speakers (pictured) so I can listen to it in the kitchen without it waking any children who might be napping in the living room. There was also an armband with the case.

But now I'm stumped, because I can't think of any more music I want to download. What do you suggest? What I really need is some fast-paced music to organize by. Other stuff too, but mostly that, because I most often listen to music when I'm cleaning/working. So, please, even if you are normally just a lurker, de-lurk and tell me what to put on my iPod. Thanks!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Jordan has an in with Santa

So he called the North Pole to see if he would go ahead and bring Suzi and Ivey's presents a night early.

Normally we wake up at the crack of dawn (before 6:00) to open Santa gifts and let Suzi play a little while. We have to be at Jordan's parents' house, two hours away, by 10 am, which means we have to eat, pack the van, whisk Suzi away from her toys, and be on the road by 8:00. Jordan and I do not exchange gifts, so at least that's one less thing to worry about. This year, Christmas with my side of the family is sort of up in the air due to several people not knowing exactly when they'll be able to get there. We normally do Christmas Eve starting in the afternoon, but that probably isn't going to work for everyone. We wanted to be sure we got to enjoy Christmas with our girls and not just rush through it on our way to another event.

We'll be able to eat breakfast and drink coffee leisurely in our own kitchen. We can bake some last-minute goodies to share while the girls break in their new toys, and then we can take our time getting ready to go to my parents' house and finally church. Suzi won't be sick of opening gifts already by the time Santa has come, and she also won't be worn out by the time we get to Jordan's parents' house with it spaced this way. It's our way of taking back just a little of this maddeningly hectic holiday to focus on our family. Not the extended family, but just our little family of four.

Santa's already been here and in the morning we'll get to do the fun part.

But now it's bedtime for us. Have a Merry Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I can respect that it's not like this everywhere, but at our little church, the children's Christmas pageant is not meant to be a professional affair. We have the cantata in which the choir sings, and they do an amazing job. Then, at a totally separate service (this year the week after the cantata), we have the children's nativity. This year Jordan got a call from Pegie, our pastor's wife, asking if Suzi (our two-year-old) would be Mary and if Jordan would be Joseph. Pegie is one of Suzi's Sunday School teachers and when she asked Suzi what part she wanted to play, Suzi told her she wanted to be Mary and her daddy to be Joseph.

Pegie thought it would be a good idea to make this a parent-child nativity, which was smart because the only way Suzi ever would've walked down the aisle all costumed and in front of everyone like that is with her dad. I threw together a quick costume for her: simple long dress we already had, blue piece of fabric for her head, baby doll wrapped in a neutral piece of fabric. Jordan already had a costume because we were Mary and Joseph and Suzi was Jesus this time two years ago.

We didn't know exactly what would happen, but we were pretty sure it would be a mess. Luckily, that is what most everyone expects when you have a two-year-old in a Christmas pageant. We were happy, once the moment came, that she consented to be in it at all. We didn't want Mary to take off running up the aisle and jump into Grandma's lap, leaving Joseph sitting uncomfortably in the micro-stable. In the end, though, it went okay. Suzi had to be carried, refused to wear anything on her head, and unswaddled the Baby Jesus, but everyone enjoyed it and Suzi is so happy and proud that she got to be Mary. I made a little Holy Family out of clay for a Christmas gift and when Suzi saw it she smiled and said "that's me when I was Mary!" I think one of the best ways to get a child to understand something is to have them act it out. It's important to me that Suzi understand the Christmas story, so I'm glad she did it. It was meaningful, even if at the end of the service one of our friends was jokingly singing "away in a manger, no crib for His bed, the little Lord Jesus had a cup on his head." (Watch the video and you'll see what I mean.)

Here's the video I managed to get before my Flip camera died...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ten fabulous days of Christmas this year

Suzi waving excitedly at the Christmas parade...

Because she saw this guy! This Christmas is going to be magical for her.

Growing up and in college, I was spoiled by long, lazy Christmas breaks. Mama was a schoolteacher and Daddy worked at a university, so we had days and days off at Christmas together. I myself had 2-3 weeks off for the holidays, at least. Then I got a job, and learned that when you work retail you don't have this luxury. The past three Christmases I worked at Jennie G's and had to work either Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas. I don't think I ever did work Christmas Eve, but working the day after required rushing back from our out-of-town families to be in the shop by 9:00 am. And I certainly worked the week or two before Christmas and directly after. Jordan would be off work and while he was home playing with Suzi, I'd be stuck in the shop. I know it wasn't that big of a deal. There are people who are forced to work all holidays, even on Christmas Day. We were lucky to have our jobs, but like I said, I was spoiled.

I knew having oodles of time with family at Christmas would be a perk of being a stay-at-home mom, and it definitely is. Jordan is off from the 18th through the 27th--ten days total, including weekends. Ten days to hang out at home with our girls, bake goodies, make crafts, wrap gifts, watch Christmas specials... heaven! We're going to Jordan's parents' house Christmas Day and this year we actually get to spend the night. While we are there, we may even meet up with one of my best friends and her husband who we haven't seen in years.

I spent most of Thursday getting our house Christmas clean. I did dishes, laundry, organized, straightened up, and vacuumed--even under the coffee table. (There was some interesting stuff under there.) I love our little house with all its Christmas decorations and big fluffy recliner and Phibby the couch dog.

I've also finished up my last round of thank-you notes so I can stop feeling bad about that, and yesterday I made truffles with my mom. We've got a few other things to do, but at the top of my list is spending time with my husband and our two girls.

My try-to-get-done-before-Christmas list:
clean the van out so we don't have to ride with a bunch of junk
help Jordan finish up making a couple of gifts
make a couple of ornaments
wrap our last few gifts and put them under the tree
bake apple crisp
make chex mix
bake cookies
watch the Nativity Story movie
watch the Grinch, Frosty, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, and Rudolph
listen to my favorite Christmas music

I am glad to be doing these things. I am glad to have time to do these things. God has blessed our decision for me to stay home in so many ways.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Our fifth

The only picture from our wedding I have on this computer

Today was our fifth wedding anniversary. Right now five years ago, Jordan and I were leaving our reception. Our friends and family waved goodbye from the front porch of our venue, and then laughed when Jordan dutifully stopped at a stop sign five or so yards from where our car was parked. We drove to the tiny, I mean cozy apartment we would share and Jordan had cleaned it earlier that day so it would be nice when we got back. We drove to Atlanta to spend the night, and we stopped for McDonald's Happy Meals on the way because we got hungry. I still have those happy meal toys somewhere. We took a shower at the hotel in Atlanta and I started crying when I realized I'd left my deodorant at home. I freak out if I take a shower and don't have any deodorant. Jordan went down to the front desk and asked, can I please have some complimentary deodorant? For my wife? If you'll notice how young he looks in the picture, you'll see why we got some strange looks. We still do when people see us with our two kids.

Ah, 20-year-old Jenny. There are so many things I could tell her. To spend less money and more time, to complain less and forgive more, to realize that she is really skinny and enjoy it because it won't last much longer. And then of course, you're going to have a daughter in a couple of years! Try home birth. It's not crazy, you'll like it! Don't get me started on that. We both had a lot to learn and still do. I guess I should just be happy we are figuring it out now, year by year. I wonder what we'll be thinking when we've been married ten years...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Buying new gift wrap is a little ridiculous

As I sat wrapping gifts this evening, it occurred to me that I'd like to write about gift wrap.

See, people laugh at me. At Christmas, I gingerly split the tape from the edges of the paper and fold the gift wrap up so it can be reused. I love tissue paper, too. My favorites are fancy bows and nice, thick Sally Foster-type paper that looks new, especially when it was used to wrap a big gift. Most people save gift bags and fabric bows, but I take it to the next level. I take longer to open things, and I never just RIP IT OPEN, as people are always nagging me to do. By the time all the gifts are unwrapped, I have two piles at my feet: one of my gifts, and another of my gift wrap for next year. We practically never buy any, and if we do it's a supplementary gift bag or packet of tissue.

When people see me do it they roll their eyes and chuckle awkwardly, as if I'm dumpster diving or gnawing chicken bones clean. Well, I'm laughing right back at you. Do you not like money? Gift wrap is expensive, and it's terrible for the environment to throw out a giant trash bag of paper every year! Why not make it just a little bag, and save the difference next year?

I'm pretty sure both my grandmothers did it. I know for a fact Mama Susie does, because she still gives Christmas gifts wrapped in vintage, old-fashioned paper. Jordan's grandparents recently sent over several boxes of used bows and tissue paper because they didn't need them and they know I collect them. I think gift wrap conservation must be a facet of frugality which, like so many things, skipped a generation. Our grandparents who practice this lived through the Great Depression, during a time when you didn't waste resources on frivolous items. I could do a whole post on Mama Susie (my mom's mom). We used to think it was funny that she reused things like aluminum foil, but now Jordan and I are the ones rinsing out our Ziploc bags. When we don't have to buy gift wrap, we have more money to spend on the gifts themselves or give to charity.

One thing I've found intriguing but have not yet taken to using is reusable gift wrap which is actually intended to be reused. Basically, this is a square piece of fabric with a pretty design on it that you tie your gift up in. The only reason I haven't used any is because it costs almost $10 for one piece. This website, where many such products are sold, already answered my question. Yes, you are intended to let the gift recipient keep the reusable gift wrap. I concur; asking for gift wrap back would be like asking for part of a gift back, and that would be tacky. My hope would be that the recipient would save my reusable gift wrap and use it the next year to wrap someone else's gift, preferably mine--but what if they didn't? If they just threw it away or stuck it in the back of a closet it would be even more of a waste, and we honestly wouldn't be able to afford decent gifts if we spent so much money just to wrap things each year. Sure, I could make my own out of remnants from the fabric store, but I really do like my fabric stash and prefer to use it for other things. The only answer I can think of is a gift wrap revolution in which everyone switches to cloth wrappings, but I doubt my friends and family are ready for that.

This year I will be dipping into our little secondhand stash. Not one penny has been spent on gift wrap this Christmas, and we plan to keep it that way. Don't be offended if I give you a gift and it's in the same paper you wrapped my present in last year. Just be glad that I am getting a little extra use out of what you gave me.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Puj Tub: simple and convenient

I wanted a Puj Tub when Ivey was smaller but we never got one, so I was excited when I got an email saying I'd been chosen as a product tester and would be getting one to try out!

There are only so many ways you can bathe a little baby, and they are nearly all aggravating. The first thing we tried (with Suzi) was a big oval tub, which was extremely heavy when full, nearly impossible to drain, and took up a bunch of space.

We also have a deep, round tub like this, and it's nice, but still heavy when full of water. It's a bit of a pain to clean and, like the oval tub before it, is cluttering up our bathroom. We have hardly any storage space. Consignment sale, here it comes.

Our old standby is this mesh "bath sling" in our kitchen sink. It works okay, but Ivey slips and slides around on it. I also have to leave it out to dry for a couple of hours after a bath before I can put it back in the closet.

For all these reasons, I eagerly awaited the arrival of our Puj Tub. When I came home to find it on our doorstep a few days ago, I quickly unwrapped it and put it in the sink--and that brings me to the main issue we had with it. I thought we had standard sinks. They have always worked fine for us, so I never gave it a second thought, but apparently they are much larger and shallower than most. All three of our bathroom sinks are similar in size, and here is the fit:

I still bathed Ivey in it (with the tub leaned back) and it did work, but it wasn't ideal. It worked better with a folded hand towel placed under the foot of the tub. To be sure it was just our sink, I took the tub over to my parents' house and tried out theirs. Sure enough, it fit like a glove.

I gave Ivey a bath in it at my parents' house, and it went pretty well. Here are my favorite things about the Puj Tub:

1) Perfect for travel. We are visiting our in-laws over Christmas, and our Puj Tub will be going with us. It's so lightweight, easy to clean and dry, and hardly takes up any room in the car! Just throw it in on top of your luggage.
2) Snaps together with magnets. This is one of the first things I noticed. You don't have to line it up just right; it falls into place easily. You can set up the tub while holding baby in your other arm.
3) Doesn't take much water. Other tubs take a lot more water than this one. It gets the bath underway faster and saves a little water, too.
4) Baby doesn't slide. This was a problem with our bath sling, but the Puj Tub cradles Ivey perfectly.
5) No need to lift a heavy, water-filled tub. You just take baby out, then tilt the tub forward so the water runs out the hole. Then it's ready to unfold.
6) Doesn't get mildewy. I hate mildew! Because this tub hangs flat against a door or wall, water won't pool in it. It's also anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.
7) Soft for baby. The material is not only smooth, it also has a little squish. It cushions baby and retains warmth far better than any other bathing item we've tried.
8) One-handed cleanup. Don't you hate reaching down into cold, forgotten bath water to pull the plug? I do. Cleanup only takes a few seconds with the Puj Tub, and you can do it while holding your baby.
9) It's simple. A simple design is almost always the best way to go. With a simple product, there are fewer things that can go wrong! The Puj Tub is a simple (but great) idea.

There are also a couple of things I think could be improved upon:

1) I wish it fit our sinks. It'd be nice if there were a Puj 2 for bigger sinks or kitchen sinks. However, we can still use this one during travel and, as I said before, with a folded towel to improve the fit.
2) If it held just a bit more water, rinsing would be easier. I seriously doubt this would be an issue with a newborn, but Ivey is a chubby little 4-month-old and when I put her in the tub, a lot of the water came out :-)

Ivey loved the Puj Tub, though. I could tell she was comfortable in it. See?

I think this is a cool product and I would recommend it, but it'd be best to get it while you're still pregnant or right after your baby's birth so you'll have it for the brand-new baby days. Once Ivey can sit up for a bath, we'll be tucking our Puj Tub away for our next baby. I bet it'll make newborn bathing a ton easier!

Check out the Puj Tub for yourself at the new web site exclusively for baby bath tubs!

(And in case I didn't say this clearly, I was sent a free Puj Tub to review.)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nightmare before Christmas

We are at Jordan's parents' house. We came here today with the intention of getting adorable Christmas pictures made of Ivey, Suzi, and their cousin Michael. I was hoping Ivey would be in a good mood, and she was. Little did I know that Suzi was the one I needed to worry about. She eventually consented to be in the picture, but only with her Nana, and she didn't crack a single smile. Not even a little one.

Kicking, screaming, crying, gagging... It was so bad, and people were staring. The place was crowded with children and irritated parents waiting their turn and I know half the problem was that Suzi felt pressured to perform. I shrugged and explained to the photographer that she's two, and it happens sometimes. It was so horribly frustrating, but once it was over, we laughed and bought a bunch of pictures with Suzi whining in her Nana's lap. We realized we loved these pictures. Especially as we have more kids, there may never come a time when all of my children are smiling at once. But pictures like these are real, at least. I asked Suzi why she wouldn't have her picture made (later in the van, when she was calm) and she said "'cause I pitchin' a fit." It's really cool that we have a picture of Jordan's mom with all her grandkids, and this is the only way we would've gotten it, because she just wanted one of the children.

I think this one's our favorite

Ivey looked so pretty in her Christening gown her Nana made

I said before we left that we would never do this again, but I know good and well we'll have them all dressed up again next year, hoping things go better. Sigh. When we finish it'll be an ice cream cone for the kids and a glass of wine for me.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

All lined up

The tiniest nursing mamas I've made, at 3/4" or smaller.

And, finally...

This is part of the "Lines" themed You Capture Challenge over at I Should be Folding Laundry. It's my first time participating.
You should do it too!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Making stuff is addictive

My favorite.

I know it seems like I can't shut up about making things out of clay, but... well, no, I can't. It's fun. The only bad part is that there are so many things I want to make but I don't have time. Here's a little of what I've added to the Etsy shop since my last post...

I figured out how to make curly hair :-)

Just to let people know it's a bad time. Especially if you don't have a lock on your door.

I have sold eight items so far, and I just want to say THANK YOU SO MUCH to everyone who has bought things and complimented my work. After my first two sales, I went and bought a little pasta machine. I used to have all kinds of trouble getting a thin enough piece of clay for making hair. I used a rolling pin, but the clay would stick to the pin and then I'd push it down and it wouldn't come off the table. It was such a waste of time! Now I just stick a piece of clay in the machine, turn the handle, and it comes out perfectly flat in seconds.

Some ideas I'd like to try, if I ever get the time:
fridge magnets
tiny mama pendants/charms
"it's a boy/girl" ornaments
"we (heart) nursing moms" sign for restaurants/businesses
babywearing ornaments
Mary breastfeeding baby Jesus (this is coming, I just need to paint it! Joseph too.)
picking up a book about polymer clay to see what I can learn

It may seem like I'm a little too excited, but it doesn't normally take a person 25 years to nail down a hobby, now does it?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Our new Etsy shop, Oil in My Lamp

Since Jordan and I were already planning to open an Etsy shop to sell some things we'd been making together, I decided it'd be a good idea to list some of my breastfeeding ornaments now. It is, after all, getting close to Christmas. I have many other ideas of things I'd like to make; motherhood has really inspired me to get crafty. The ironic thing is, now that I'm a mother (of two!) I hardly have time to make anything. I stayed up super late making these ladies.

In case you're wondering about the name, we have been making little oil lamps and plan to list some of them as soon as possible. It's also named after one of my favorite Sunday School songs from when I was a little kid. (It looks like it might be "oilin' my lamp" but it's not. Jordan put it in all lowercase.)

So anyway, you can find most of the mamas pictured above here in our shop. And now I am a little nervous.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas ornament nurse-in

Here are the rest of them...

Babywearing Daddy came along for moral support (and beside him, Mary is nursing baby Jesus, because as Julie pointed out some time ago, Jesus was breastfed). The Daddy ornament is for Jordan, and that's our Storchenwiege he's wearing, which is his favorite carrier at the moment. Recently we went to see New Moon and he wore (sleeping) Ivey in the wrap the entire time. It was so awesome.

I've made a couple of other things too, but I'll save them for another post.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Breastfeeding Christmas ornament

I made one. Here she is, publicly nursing her baby right there in front of all the other ornaments on the tree. She's not ashamed.

She's not perfect, but she was only my second try. I made some other simpler, smaller ornaments too. I don't know why I made so many. I kept thinking of ways to improve the first one, and it seemed a shame to heat the oven up for just a couple of little clay mamas, and I had a big chunk of Sculpey left. Now I have an array of breastfeeding ornaments. If I hung them all on my tree it would look like a nurse-in.

While making these I discovered that I really, really like making stuff with clay. And then painting it. I even thought of some things I could make as gifts (for those friends and family who aren't as wild about lactation as I am), and maybe even sell.

I'll post pictures of my other ornaments later, when I'm done painting them all.

Christmas ornament show-and-tell

One of my favorite parts of Christmas is getting all my favorite ornaments back out and remembering when we got them. These are some of the ones I like best...

Because our anniversary is December 18 and we don't like getting each other expensive gifts, Jordan and I usually cover both occasions at once with an ornament exchange. Sometimes we make them, sometimes we buy them. This one I had made (professionally, through our photographer) from one of our wedding pictures. We had such a good time riding to our reception this way; it gave us time to talk before the whirlwind of greeting guests. But it was cold!

Jordan made this one for me. It's always so exciting to see what he'll come up with when we make ornaments, because he doesn't draw or paint or sew, or do much of anything artistic, but he is pretty creative. He made this one with pipe cleaners, golf tees, and white marine epoxy. We had the same initials after we got married, if you hadn't guessed. It's so deliciously geeky.

This is what I made for Jordan that same year. Actually, I made a bunch of picture ornaments as gifts. My mom taught me how.

This one was a gift from someone in Jordan's family, and it's so pretty. I also love our red wooden beads. Our very small tree needed a little something, and they were it. I think we bought them at a yard sale.

We call these our Unity Santas. German for Jordan and Scottish for me (even though together we are a mix of German, English, Scottish, French, and I can't remember what else). My mom bought them for us. The one in the middle is a Clemson Santa, so he represents us both, and he was a gift from Jordan's parents.

My brother Paul carved me this Santa years ago. He said it was Santa after he just got back from delivering all those toys.

There are some more good ornaments at my parents' house, like the little dough "bell" I made for my mom one year when I was about five. I painted it brown to give it a copper-like color, and instead it ended up looking like a piece of poop on a string. I always hang it right on the front of their tree. Also, with that same batch of dough I made my brother Paul an ornament that ended up looking sort of like a small sugar cookie. It about broke his teeth out before he realized what it really was.

What are your favorite things and memories during the holidays?