Friday, August 31, 2012

7 Quick Takes: Political Version

I am pretty much over the Catholics who smugly behave "above" the political debate by making broad generalizations about how horrible all politicians are, and observe that really none of them are the perfect candidate.  Why thank you, insightful hipster Catholic, but that doesn't exempt you from having to make decisions about who to vote for and it certainly doesn't mean that you suddenly get a free pass to sit on your high horse and judge people all day long. 

I took this fun political quiz the other day and discovered that, as I figured, I identify as mostly libertarian. I disagree with Governor Romney on several key issues, including immigration and some social issues like the death penalty, but of course there is no one candidate that I agree with one hundred percent. I figure this reveals my bleeding heart nature! It is true, hipster Catholic, that to be truly Catholic means that we agree with no party...but if you don't register with a party, then you don't get to vote in the primaries! 

I strongly believe that a lot of people, including many well-intentioned Catholics, are simply ignorant about the way that money works in this country. They dislike Governor Romney because he is wealthy and don't think wealthy businessmen should be lauded; they disapprove of Representative Ryan because they've heard his plan hurts the poor. What they fail to realize is that people who are good with money are precisely the people you want to handle your country's budget, and that our debt crisis cannot be spent away. Our country will collapse completely if we do not resolve our debt crisis - we are NOT too big to fail! We don't want to be Greece, for pity's sake. That means we have to put our big girl pants on and make cuts to the budget - and if we're being realistic, probably over half of what the federal government does is completely unnecessary. 

Also contributing to many people's voting confusion is a failure to understand federalism, the most basic concept that forms our government. They do not realize that they are voting for the President - and that they president has very specific, limited, enumerated powers. It is unrealistic to expect the president to mirror your beliefs in every possible way; he has to represent and unite a nation and do what is in the nation's best interest, staying out of partisan squabbles. Because we have stopped caring about local government and nearly disenfranchised ourselves at the state level, we become hysterical about presidential elections, wanting the president to be a mirror of our own beliefs. This is impossible. 

While we're on the subject, this is why considering who to vote for president is different than who to vote for in the legislature or the school board. We have to ask - what do they influence? It really does not  matter if your clerk of court is pro-choice! But it hugely matters if your president is, because he appoints justices, who are the only ones who can overturn Roe v. Wade. Similarly, the death penalty has been appropriately left to the states and that's why how the president feels about that is irrelevant; but your local legislative representatives do make that decision! The fact is that the presidential election isn't the only one that matters - senators and congressmen are huge, especially in regards to immigration. 

But the biggest issue, for me, is power. Plainly put, the federal government is too broad. I am hoping that because of the debt crisis, double-R will have to make huge cuts to federal programs, returning them to the states. I realize that they are not any more inclined to relinquish their grasp on power than any politician is, but at least I think they are willing to do it to balance the budget. I don't know how realistic it is, but what I really want is a turning back of the interpretation of the commerce clause and a complete restructuring of how we run this country. People are disengaged and not involved in the country because they have no sense of local community; they are not involved on the most basic level. Government is something that happens far away - not something personal that happens in their state, county, and town. An educated and involved citizenry is the key to a successful republican democracy! 

All right, I'll stop! Here's a happy thought: in Heaven, there will be no politics. Alleluia! 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Most Catholic Family Ever

I'm competitive - about some things (rugby, feats of strength, academics, manners). Mr. Oram and I are competitive with each other - mostly about academics. But one thing that he always laughs at, is the fact that I can make my Catholicism competitive.

When we went on our pre-Cana retreat, I tweeted something to effect "Tom says this isn't a contest for the most Catholic couple, but I'm not fooled. We're here to WIN." Every time the couples leading the retreat asked questions, I had my hand raised. Hermione Granger in her first year at Hogwarts? Absolutely.

I am an insufferable know-it-all in any formal situation where certificates are awarded. And as it turns out, even when there aren't any certificates at all...even when no one else is paying attention...even when the competition is just in my twisted little mind...

I told Mr. O that I wanted our children's names to be definitively Catholic. No wishy-washy Catholic-code names here! We're going to prove just how Catholic we are by naming our children things that say "look, we are rosary-praying, daily-Mass-going, Pope-loving CATHOLICS." I really wasn't that worried; afterall, we don't have stiff competition, since most of our friends just give their children names that are meaningful to them and usually a Catholic middle name (now that I write that it out, it sounds so normal and appealing...). But then Mr. O sent me an article about an acquaintance's professional success; at the end of the article, it gave a short bio and listed the names of his six children:

Benedict. Sebastian. Scholastica. Athanasius. Magnus. Gemma.

Say WHAT? Not only does this person have the jump on us in fertility, which is obviously the easiest way to prove how holy you are, but they pulled out the BIG guns on names - Scholastica? Athanasius?? How am I supposed to compete with that!!? (by the way, I would like to note that I was lobbying for Athanasius because we knew Baby O was/is a Baby O'Girl and Scholastica has long been a cherished favorite, completely squashed by my obviously-not-as-Catholic-as-I-am husband)

Mr. Oram quickly realized his mistake as I repeated each of the names with huge saucer like eyes. He knows the maniacal, will-win-at-any-cost look I get, and quickly acted to head me off at the pass. "Look, we're not going to beat them at this point. The best we can do is tie, okay? Lets just shoot for a tie." Unfortunately, this is a very poor strategy to take with crazies like me...tying is not a viable option. I will either be beaten to a bloody pulp, unable to stand, or I will triumph over your twitching corpse. (ok maybe that analogy was excessive...I am in no way threatening this person's children... unfortunately, I mostly view competition in terms of physical combat)

Physical combat like this, from the movie 300, one of my favs. I know, I fail at genteel Catholic womanhood.

So although we had a couple of perfectly acceptable names that combined our Catholicism, respect for family tradition, and love for Roman history, now I feel I am back to square one. I have to find names that project an image: we are a family that is more Catholic than you are. We are the MOST Catholic family, ever. That way, when we run into this acquaintance, he will understand that although we have just one child so far, we are playing in his league and we are here to WIN. So while his wonderfully named children go off and join the Jesuits or non-habited nuns, OURS are going to be Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and Nashville Dominicans!

(Note: This is probably the reason that my husband wisely doesn't want out NFP-related decisions left up to me; having children to win a competition is, I am sure, one of the fastest ways to ruin a marriage and any hope of getting to Heaven)

You experienced moms out there are probably laughing at me, shaking your  heads - maybe you want to tell me, "by the time you have six kids, you'll be lucky if you remember ANY of their names - Catholic or not - and you'll mostly be happy if they'd all just be quiet at the same time." But I know different. I am young and inexperienced and overly-optimistic, and I just know that my six overtly-Catholicly named children will be shining examples of manners, academic prowess, rugby agility, and faith. Right!?! 

***Please if anyone takes this post totally seriously, do not comment - just content yourself with thinking bad things about me for the rest of your natural life. You could even pray for me. I am obviously a horrible person.

Friday, August 24, 2012

7 Quick Takes!

If you read this blog in Google reader or some such contraption, you won't think anything has changed. But those of you who visit might have noticed some aesthetic changes - I'm playing around with layout, pages, and such, but I'm still pretty new and learning a lot! So don't get too happy with what I'm doing, since it'll probably change again soon. 

This week a small pipe in our garage started misting out of its cap. Odd...except that the mist, when left alone, created a large puddle. And we didn't want a large puddle. So obviously, we tried to repair the teeny-tiny hole with some sealant...that didn't work. Then the hubs decided to just replace the cap altogether! With another, sturdier, metal cap. Uh, that didn't work either - it popped right off and hit him in the back! I came up with the idea that since it was a copper pipe and a copper cap, we should solder them together...which resulted in a few trips to the hardware store for flux, another tank for the blow torch, and solder wire. I insisted on doing it myself, since I was the one who has observed this sort of operation before, and now we have a soldered-closed pipe. Wheee! 

Tropical Storm Isaac seems intent on hitting us sometime around Monday. I don't really mind, since that meant last night at 7 or so it was in the 70s!! That's a big deal around here. Mr. O and I took a blanket out back and lounged while reading real books - not articles on our phones! We brought the dog too, who alternated between trying to commandeer our places on the blankets and running over to the neighbor girls, to ruin their game of soccer. It was heavenly and now I want Fall EVEN MORE. 

Made the very bad decision on Wednesday night to watch the movie "The Rite," right before bed! I know possessions and exorcisms are real and so that didn't really help much. I don't think I would have been quite as terrified if one of the main possessed people hadn't been a flipping pregnant girl!! Why did no one warn me? Getting up for my nightly constitutional to the bathroom has been a bit more nerve-wracking because of that...

We're going to see Mr. Oram's family in the midwest in just a few weeks! I can't wait and although their forecast keeps saying 70s/80s, I keep telling myself we will get there and it will be in the 60s. I think I've said this before. Ok I'm just going to keep saying it because I REALLY want it to be cold!! 

Why are gliders so ugly?? Baby things in general are mostly atrocious, but baby furniture is the pits. I want a glider/rocking t hing for the nursery but everything I find is hideous - and since my mom already made me window valances and curtains, I don't really feel like saying "by the way, recover my chair too!" And as crafty as I am, I don't even own a sewing machine. I wanted something classy and nice, but all of those gliders cost as much as real furniture!!  

Our plans to move are on hold. Our neighbors have calmed down, after a few interventions, and we really want to wait a few years. So now we're just having fun making our little house pretty! And non-leaky...

Happy weekend, y'all! 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Sum(mit) of All Fears

Well we're about two months out from official baby arrive time. I don't think we're really "ready" in terms of stuff, but I don't feel "unready" either - unless it's late at night and I'm tired and then I freak on my Mr. Oram.

But as this baby draws nearer, I am starting to become aware that I am afraid. I am starting to wish that most people wouldn't make half-menacing statements to me in discussing the pregnancy (like the "you think you don't get sleep now..." or "well enjoy married life while you can..."), because I'm afraid that those comments have stuck somewhere and are now creeping into my consciousness, giving me a worried feeling I can't quite shake.

It's an odd thing to be suddenly facing what you have wanted for most of your life, and realizing that, though it is something you have always prepared for, you remain infinitely, hopelessly unprepared.  I keep thinking to myself, I'm going to come home with a new human and...then what? The multiplicity of issues that could arise are beginning to fly into my brain at lightning speed: problems with labor and delivery, problems with bonding, the possibility of post partum depression, the craziness of the first six weeks, problems nursing, no sleep, health problems for baby.

At least I won't be smoking around my child, but beyond that, I'm sure there are ten billion other ways to screw up royally.

I do not know many people whom I have watched become mothers. I know mothers; fully-formed mothers, women I could never imagine as anything but what they are - nuturing, scolding, easy-going mothers. And I know women who aren't yet, but want to be mothers. I have only one friend who has become a mother in my time knowing her, but she is far away; I missed out on the transition. It seems like one day she wasn't, and then the next time I saw her, she was. No transition time; easy, seamless.

So lets be honest: I am frightened. Frightened that this is a test I will most certainly fail, frightened of the responsibility that comes with having a child, frightened of the change that will surely come, especially to my marriage, frightened that parenthood will turn me into someone that I don't want to be.

In addition to the fears that stem mostly from the idea of inadvertent death or misery, I also fear the growing up. What if she does survive...but I still fail as a parent? My fears for her adult self range from the mundane to the extreme: what if she is ungrateful or rude, is a mean person, is chronically irresponsible, leaves the Faith, becomes an addict, decides she hates me, hurts herself or someone else irreparably? What if I do everything I can - and still she chooses a different path? I have witnessed parents' pain when their children make bad decisions. Families yoke us together, families mean that we feel pain for choices we have no ability to change. And here I am - I've decided to have a family! I chose this as my vocation, in response to God's call. I have opened myself to this incalculable risk, the greatest vulnerability of my life.

As much as I am thinking about getting everything in order and organized, as much as I jokingly complain that October can't come soon enough, I am in actuality trying to make peace with my vocation, again. I am trying to face this great summit of my fear and believe that God wants this for me, and that I can do this - even if it far harder than I imagined, even if I feel like I am failing, even if all my fears come true. Even if they did, I have to come to a place where I stake my peace on the reality that God wants this for me, and lack of perfection does not mean I have failed to live out his will - or that I will be unhappy.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Homeschooling in Danger?

There's a great article in First Things entitled "The Freedom to Homeschool." (I highly encourage a read; it's actually short.) What I found most egregious about this article was not anything in its writing, but the comments. Many of the commenters seem to believe that because they have met inept homeschooling families, that the State should step in - y'know, save us all from awkward social interaction! 

Nothing like a Gosling meme to get things started...

I thought I would post some of my thoughts on homeschooling as well as some of my concerns with State regulation of home education. State-run education has become something of a joke in my mind, to be honest; as a graduate of a public high school (albeit some 10 years ago) and with my mom a public high school teacher, I feel my interaction with the system is adequate to form an opinion. Public schools here in Florida function as babysitters. Once in a while, there is a match made in heaven when a competent teacher is given students who are interested in the material and have a good support network; most of the time, it is the less fun match of a competent teacher with completely unengaged students, or the abysmal pairing of an apathetic teacher and a buzzed-out student body. I see public schools as largely a last resort, whose harmful effects can be partially mitigated by highly involved and motivated families. 

As a gal who was homeschooled myself and plans to homeschool my own children, I have to say that homeschooling is indeed a precarious right. Homeschoolers often face nosy neighbors that call DCF because they notice the children aren't attending public school; they are the subject of suspicion by many in government authority. Many are threatened with the loss of their children for perceived "negligence" that really functions as mere pretext for government punishment of their education choices. We certainly experienced this.

And my parents weren't religious. They were secular hippies, who wanted their children to develop their imaginations - not exactly the incompetent zealots of leftist nightmares.

I would say "my poor parents!" but they were always pretty much loners among parents...I don't think the years have really changed much. 

All these anecdotes concerning homeschooled children are besides the point. At issue is not whether anyone thinks homeschooled children are weird or "poorly socialized"; I am sure everyone can agree that there are odd ducks in every educational institution. The question is, do parents have the right to educate their children and if so, how much that right is subject to regulation by the state?

In theory, I agree with state regulation of home education. In practice, there are many potential problems. The government has its own interests; I am not entirely sure we can trust it to be looking out for the best interests of children. Governments, by their nature, want to increase their power, and that means their control over its citizens and their pocket books. This applies to all levels of government, but the federal government is truly out of control in its mad grab for power. Now, through its overbearing and unnecessary Department of Education, the fed frequently coerces state action and standards in regards to education - actions and standards that may not work in all states at all times. States must be free to set their own regulations for education because few things are as personal; states have varying educational needs due to huge differences in population size, demographics, and taxing structures, to say nothing of the actual desires of their citizens. I really wish former President Reagan, RIP, could have completely dismantled the DOE; as it stands now, it's a pointless drain on our stressed out federal budget. With any luck, candidates Ryan and Romney will have the stones to do it. 

Furthermore, the state (by this I refer to nation-states, meaning any level of government in a sovereign nation) is by its very nature slow moving, and its regulations overly-broad. It is not an entity given to narrowly tailored regulations with appropriate exceptions and expediency of process. We all know this; we know this because of our experiences with any number of government entities - the DMV, the Dept. of Children and Families, the court system, applications for state/federal aid, student loans, or public services such as utilities. When a violation of a regulation is charged, getting it resolved often costs great time and money, and in the case of parents and children, it doesn't matter if the parents are found to be in the right in the end. Government workers are famously devoid of compassion, common sense, and any level of efficiency - which prolongs an already arduous process. Vindication then comes only after the total desecration of any normal family life for an indeterminate period of time, possibly even years.

It is for these reasons I am in favor of home education that is entirely unregulated by the federal government and regulated only very narrowly by the State, with narrow powers of punishment at their disposal. State regulation is a tool citizens should be very careful in using in matters that require delicacy and discretion, such as this; it is a that is tool is blunt and inexact, and once invited in, is most assuredly there to stay, long after it has outlived its usefulness.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Underselling Moms

For some reason, ever since I've moved into this house, we've been getting copies of Parenting magazine.

Could this magazine BE any more hipster? 

I find this magazine idiotic in the extreme. It has fashion spreads for your children - y'know, so you can dress them in the latest trends! (seriously!?) And the articles are obviously written for people who don't have brains; like the one "secret sugar" in your child's diet, that included children's cereals (I highly doubt anyone was looking at Lucky Charms and saying, whole grains!) and children's yogurt (that's why it's delicious).

And yet their latest issue impressed even me with its ability to be total crap. First I stumbled upon the article in the back entitled: "The New Sex Life CPR: Fifty Shades of Grey is parents' sex toy du jour!" I nearly spit out my tea. I thought I was reading a bad parenting magazine - not Cosmo.

This fake magazine cover is hysterical, albeit more than a bit racy; apparently this is courtesy of Peter Shankman. 

So the article compares what Moms/Dads have to say about 50 Shades - how it's helped their sex life. One commenter said she and her husband were intimate more than usual and added "That hasn't happened since I read Twilight." Two pages later was an article entitled "Good Vibrations: Picks for unintimidating toys to take undercover," and it begins with the sentence "Vibrators. They're nearly as common in homes now as coffeemakers." 

Look, being a parent is hard. I think even those of us who aren't there yet know that.  And undoubtedly, at some point while raising children, parents face difficulties in their sex life. But is this the way to help? Out of the four vibrators discussed in the article, only one of them makes mention of use with a partner - so it's encouraging wives to masturbate. Martial intimacy is tricksy; it involves vulnerability, communication, and self-giving on an unprecedented level. By our nature, we crave it - we crave the embrace that gives all and withholds nothing. But we are also afraid. To really be intimate with our partners, we risk rejection and pain, inconvenience and frustration. 

These articles encourage moms to take a short cut: don't bother actually loving your husband and enjoying your marital relationship. Instead, use pornography to turn you on enough to scratch that itch. And if that's even too much of a stretch, use this device that will do the trick just fine. Is this what moms really want? No. They want to be loved endlessly and have a passionate relationship with their husband, in and outside of the bedroom. And it's possible to have that; though it may ebb and flow depending on the season of their life. Instead of encouraging moms to the heights of human experience, this magazine undersells their capabilities, marriages, and mentalities by holding out a few cheap quick fixes. 

I expect this stuff from most women's magazines. I guess I just didn't realize it was creeping in everywhere, even into otherwise crappy parent magazines. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

7 Quick Takes...

I am pinterest daydreaming of the holidays...doesn't really matter which one, I've got a craving for them all. I am dreaming of cooler weather, hot drinks, and family traditions. Best of all, by the time the first one gets here (Halloween), I should have my very own babe to cuddle! I know she'll be teeny-tiny, but I can't wait to introduce her to all our traditions just the same! 

This is what all my family Christmases look like...obviously.

Unfortunately, I am sick (or something) right now - and not just of summer. I am a bit stuffed up and have a sore throat, which I think is totally bogus because it's not even cold out. If I'm going to get a cold, can't it at least be when it's cold out? Who gets colds at the tail end of summer??

If you like beautiful notebooks, then I will let you in on a secret: the fabulous Maybooks have a Groupon going on right now where you can get two of their fully customizable notebooks for $25! Great gifts for anyone in your life and I think they pretty-up anything you have to do or keep track of. 
Is it a Southern thing? I'm coo-coo for monograms!

Tonight is an 80s party. I am supposed to go in costume. UGH. I had no idea that costume parties as a pregnant woman would be so obnoxious! So I have to find something to wear that's 80s theme, fits, and is not blazing hot (ie, leg warmers...)?? I might be a party pooper and just do my hair/make up's the most they can expect! 

 I think we might have a baby name...are you as excited as I am?!? We are almost positive this is the name...but I have still held off ordering some monogrammed things for her, just in case we change our mind! I don't think we'll be for certain sure until we meet her, but would you like a hint?? It starts with a: 

If you want something really comforting or uplifting/inspiring, I would suggest reading two things: this blogpost about St. Maximilian Kolbe and this incredible blogpost by Monsignor Charles Pope about having peace (I promise, it's very encouraging, not overly lofty or something). I watched the youtube video at the end of Monsignor's post...several hundred times. Great song.

I hope this isn't violating my own rules and giving TMI, but one of the oddest effects of pregnancy, for me, is that my belly button is getting shallow. It's not quite an outie yet, but it's getting there...which is odd. I thought it would just go from my regular belly button to popped out, but it doesn't! Weird. 

Go see Jen for more! 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Pregnancy Etiquette, Revisited

I've been pregnant now for a whole 31 weeks, so I feel I am an expert on what people do during pregnancy that makes everyone a bit peeved, as the Brits would say. Here are some more helpful hints for those of you that can't figure out how to interact with the world when they are growing a baby or cannot figure out how to interact with a woman in the family way.

1. Stop one-up-manship. This seems to be a thing that experienced mothers do to new mothers especially. I think it's mostly innocent; they think they're are being empathetic when what they're actually doing is having a good ol' fashioned pissing contest. That's a no-no ladies! The greatest difference between empathy and one-up-manship is the focus: when you make your comment, if you draw more attention to yourself than to the person about whom you are inquiring, then you are attempting to one-up them.
When a new mother of one says, "Oh I'm doing well! Just tired!" do not respond with "just wait until you have TWO." That's rude. When the good lady has two and discusses the difficulty of coordinating sleep schedules, do not respond "Welcome to MY world." That is also rude, and makes the mother feel as if everyone else has been doing this for ages as she's been skating by so easily.

2.  Stop fear tactics. Childbirth is a private thing, but some cultural wisdom about it swirls around thanks to indiscreet movies and the fact that women's private health concerns are considered appropriate conversation fodder these days. With the result that newly pregnant women are often treated to inquiries such as: "Well you're getting close - are you afraid? I had 30 hours of labor with  my first, it was the WORST." Other delightful anecdotes include how much *ahem* damage down below the storyteller suffered as well as any awful medical abnormalities that surfaced.
I realize that women who have given birth belong to a club and membership in this club was purchased with blood, sweat, and weight gain. However, please try to refrain from frightening non-members; they certainly can't reverse their decision now and fear is an emotion that hurts labors, not helps.

3. Stop the TMI. Being pregnant certainly helps one to be more accustomed with one's ah...incarnational state. Bodily challenges arise that were previously unknown. However, the solution is not to broadcast them far and wide. Ladies, if you find yourself in that blessed state, please remember your manners: do not discuss bodily functions or in-depth medical issues with any but your closest intimates, preferably in quieter tones. No one enjoys their coffee with a side order of...well, goodness, I can't even bring myself to say it!

4. Stop dressing non-pregnant. The new pregnant shape is something of a challenge to dress. Fashion designers over the years have alternatively ignored and tortured pregnant women, and we so appreciate it too. However, this is a rather idyllic time for pregnancy fashion: stores exist just for us, with undergarments just for us!, and they even make pants with convenient stretchy panels that I may never give up, even post-baby. However, some women want to be more "fashion forward" and in so doing, leap right into a puddle of mud.
Fellow pregnant women, please cover up. I am proud you are enjoying your new voluptuous state, but keep your bosom decently attired. You might want to be aware that if you choose to wear a bikini, you can't wear your same top; you will be bursting out of it very shortly. I am sure your husband enjoys it, but mine just stops talking to you and then you ask if he's mad at you and I can't deal with your bosom as I am trying to corral my own.

5. Stop the belly molesting. I know...I've said it before and so has everyone else. But my belly is not public property and neither is the belly of any other pregnant woman. Please, please - do not forget yourself. Even if you feel you are intimate enough with the woman, you are not. My sister was recently staring at my belly so longing that I finally invited her to feel her niece kick, but the key is: I invited her! My sister, being the well-bred soul of decorum that she is, would never have dreamed of touching me without my permission.
In addition to a matter of etiquette, the concerns comfort and health concerns too. Pregnant women have aches and pains in their bellies; sometimes touching it is rather uncomfortable. Not to mention, as rather emotionally driven beings, sometimes having strangers suddenly encroaching upon us can be extremely upsetting - we become like territorial mother bears and want to rip your arms off. Surely we can all agree this is just bad for public health and should be avoided.

Wasn't that fun? Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Resurgence of the Good Cook

Unbeknownst to most of you, I am a good cook.

uh, what? 

Really, I am. Unfortunately, this talent has lain dormant for most of my pregnancy either due to laziness or nausea. Thankfully, it is coming back - both to my husband and I's delight. I really hate eating out, since I prefer my own cooking, and he really loves saving money. It's a win-win!

My pregnancy has been uneventful, craving wise, but I have a few times gotten some cravings for some  childhood favorites. Today I am making my mom's ever-famous broccoli casserole and thought, this is easy and delicious! I should share! As a kid, this made me eat veggies, which was rather miraculous, and ask for seconds, which was even more incredible. So if you have a kid who doesn't like veggies and isn't picky about texture, this may work.

So here you are:

Onion (shredded)
Cabbage (shredded; buy fresh and shred on your grater)
Brown rice (cooked)
Cream of mushroom soup
Cheese (shredded)


Steam the broccoli, cauliflower, onion and cabbage all together until soft. Then mix this with as much cream of mushroom soup as it takes to coat it - it's personal preference really, depending on how "casserole"y you like your casseroles! Once done, layer in a baking pan the broccoli mix, rice, and cheese, until you reach the top and make sure you end with MORE CHEESE.

Bake in oven at 350 until bubbling and cheese has melted. Enjoy the goodness!!

We didn't even eat a fourth of this last night, but I am looking forward to having it for the rest of the week!! 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Morning Musings

It's a quiet overcast Sunday morning - my favorite kind. Sunshine isn't intruding into my thoughts and I am enjoying the Innocence Mission playing in the background, while some blueberry greek yogurt muffins are baking away. Dog is walked and fed, and lying contentedly on tile floors, Mr. Oram is playing Mass, and I am here, in my apron and cap, musing.

You can't tell, but it's raining here - this is the nature preserve at the end of our road. 

I wanted to blog about the Republican VP pick, Paul Ryan. I thought about talking more about my pregnancy and how much I look forward to holding my child. I even considered discussing St. Clare, whose feast day was yesterday and whom I love. And I found myself continually asking, do those things go with the "theme" of my blog?

Themes in blogs are a big deal. There are articles written with tips about how to be a successful blogger, a successful Catholic blogger, a successful branded person. They all talk about a theme. I resist this theme-insistence, that pushes: what is my thing? What's my schtick? Am I going to 'just' blog about family life - marriage, pregnancy, kids, housekeeping? Will I include politics? Theology?

I want the theme of this blog to be the life of an intellectual Catholic woman. At certain times in my life, thoughts of wider world problems might consume me - the rampant anti-Christian and anti-Semitic sentiment that runs throughout popular culture, poverty, the debt crisis. And then with the new baby, I'm sure my focus will shift - the miracle of life, the joy of a child, the wilderness that first time motherhood must feel like.

I also would like to blog about the beauty of Anthropologie visual merchandise displays. Gorg.

This is what real life consists of for me, a modern Catholic American woman: highly educated, yet incredibly maternal, fiercely interested in the world but always wanting to hide out in some cloister, wanting to chat with you all about everything under the sun and still "ponder these things in [my] heart" like the Blessed Mother.

So I'll just make that my theme.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Step by Step

After having my parents down all last week, I am starting to see the light! I know it takes time for a house to become a home, but it feels like everytime my mom comes and helps me organize or points out a better way to clean, I get closer to feeling like my house is "mine" - that it's not run by clutter or stuff, but it's run by me, suits me, serves my family.

Last week, it was the nursery.

I couldn't really decide on a theme - and I'm not much of a strict theme person anyway - so I just decided to pick out things I found beautiful and put them together. It should work, right? Oh yes, it has...! My mom helped me find the perfect paint color (Behr Periwinkle?) - not too purple, not too blue, just perfect, and we spent hours in the fabric store finding the perfect pink for window valances to make it feminine. I adore the above fabric - I bought out all they had!

Then we polished up and found some new knobs for the lovely dresser we inherited from Grandma Mary:

Hung a favorite character on the wall...

And called ourselves almost done. I'm still looking for a glider that won't break the bank, but that's fashionable enough for her room, and a rug with some pink in it. But we're almost there!!

Making my house over, room by room, is more tedious than I thought it would be. I think because of my obsession with fantasy (Pinterest, Southern Living...) I get these grand notions that I'll wave a magic wand and my house will be painted, furniture recovered, pictures framed and hung...perfect. But it takes time to build a home: a relationship with a house is no less work and no less time-consuming than a relationship with a person. Room by room, little by little, step by step, my house and I are becoming closer friends.

With the help of a great antique store (the Mother Lode - check it out! It's in Bonita, for any locals out there) that boasts a big fluffy dog, I am finding bits and pieces that suit us, suit our budget, bring some happy into the house. (Hanging lantern for Baby O's room, only $12.50? Yes please!)

I hope y'all are hitting your groove at the end of the summer...with any luck, Fall will be here before we know it - and Lil' Missy Miss too!!