Tuesday, February 26, 2013

When You're Worried and You Can't Sleep...

This has been week once lovely, because my fabulous parents were here, and stressful, because I feel I dropped the ball on some things at work. As a person who struggles with expecting less than perfection, this makes me: dread going in tomorrow, want to quit, and feel like a crap person in general.

To dispel this general feeling of malaise, I will do as Bing Crosby advises and "count my blessings instead of sheep."

I have a well stocked rag bin. Having painted multiple surfaces this weekend, I used almost all of them and so had the chance to get them all washed up. Tonight, with my sweet babe fast asleep, I folded them and this brought a feeling of deep contentment. It is so nice to know I have the tools to clean up messes. 

For my husband, and our life together. Today he spent 5+ hours cleaning out the garage and then painting it, all because he knew it was important to me. He works so very hard, and I can't imagine that this is what he wanted to do with his day. He did it anyway. He always works hard so that I can be comfortable; he is incredibly good to me and to our daughter. Mr. Oram is definitively the greatest blessing to me.  

I have parents who continue to parent and love me, even though I am now grown and married. I didn't realize how much more I would need them now that I am on my own, but I'm so grateful they didn't just shoo me out and leave me be. They are always coming down here, fixing and cleaning, offering advice, cooking, walking the dog while I sleep in - in short, serving me and my family in love. This is such an incredible portrayal of Christ's love, and their willingness to spend their time off taking care of me makes me tear up, honestly. My father, the most hardworking man that I know second only to my own dear husband, runs his own business and yet here he is, hauling down his saws and sanders, working on my projects, making them just perfect - and then driving the 3 hours home and going straight to work. My mother takes time and comes down here, braving my bravado and insufferable know-it-all attitude, and yet still puts all her effort into turning my house into a home - although she spent so many years making a home for me already. 
I owe them a debt I can never repay, but I know God sees it and will remember them and their tireless love for their family. 

For my friends, especially Jen, who love my child as their own and give her all their love. I would be so much more stressed and sad if I did not have her to hold the baby while I go to the bathroom! 

My dear little home. I am so proud to have this sweet house, small and old as it may be, to call my own. I never thought I would own a home before the age of thirty, and I am grateful that I do. I am pleased to be able to fill it with objects, profound and sentimental, and to be queen over my own small domain. It is so nice to have a place to call one's own. 

And thank you all for indulging me and for reading. Perhaps someday I will make a serious effort of writing, and if I do, then knowing there are still readers will certainly have helped. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Quickest Quick

There is a frog living in my master bath sink. He will not move. 
(no picture because he is hiding in the pipes)

I am holding off on Zuzu's 4 month vaccinations because she's been sick - I'm not crazy, right? 



This weekend, I am trying to get some MAJOR house projects done - like cabinet ripping out projects. Because my dad (who can do anything) is coming. AGAIN - extremely exciting!!!

I almost ate someone else's Girl Scout Cookies for lunch today because I was like, "well here they are and I know that person is on a diet AND it's Lent, and I didn't give up sweets soooo..." Good thing I texted that person to just casually mention the cookies were here so they could say yeah thanks don't eat my cookies. (that person might be our pastor, my boss...just might be. 

My darling Mr. O has taken to calling my hair "Lady Sybil" hair, which I love. But we are only on season two, so to everyone who is trying to spoil it for me, please provide spoiler disclaimers (I'M LOOKING AT YOU, NAPLES DAILY NEWS WITH A FLIPPIN' HEADLINE ABOUT DOWNTOWN ABBEY) 

Oram out!! 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Meatless Meals

So the lovely Dwija asked for meatless meal ideas and although I shudder to think of innocent people going meatless intentionally, I also realize that as Catholics it's just something we have to do sometimes. I already linked to my (mom's) fabulous broccoli casserole recipe (which is amazing...trust me, once your kids try it, they'll forget it has veggies), but I humbly have some other offerings, gleaned from pinterest. 

First up: 

Have you ever had carrot soup? No? Why not? Do it right now. 

My mom and I always joke that there's always ONE THING that we buy at the grocery store every time we go because we are paranoid that we are out.  Her thing is mayo, my thing is carrots. At one point I looked in the fridge and realized I had over 5 pounds of carrots, some of it just inches away from being really gross bad carrots. What to do? CARROT SOUP. I used the above recipe except I kept out the ginger (it makes it very spicy) and used sour cream as a topper instead of heavy cream (cause that's what I had on hand). Then I served with tuna fish sandwiches (sounds weird but really...) The result? Fabulous-oh.


I wish I could write about this soup without crying, but I can't. Because it's so amazing, I want to fall down and cry. It might just be soup perfection. I COMMENTED on the woman's blog post, for pete's sake, just to tell her how good it was. Because she should know. The world should know. 

If you don't want to buy tortellini, make it without - it doesn't even matter. It's STILL GOOD. Serve with good bread, either homemade or Panera's Asiago Cheese Bread is quite lovely as well. I also add a ton of minced mushrooms because I believe in mushrooms in everything. (also Italian seasoning is code for oregano/parsley/whatever - don't sweat it)


I just discovered this last week and have made it twice. Although the given recipe has meat, it could very easily be made without or with frozen seafood. The glory of this recipe is: you really don't ever have to use the same things except for rice and egg, and you can throw it all in the there and forget it ever happened until you eat a steaming bowl of awesome. 

I always add two eggs instead of one (makes egg more visible and yummy) and I think it would be even better with sesame seed oil, but since we didn't have any on hand, I jacked up the amount of soy sauce for fun (you can use low sodium kind if need be). I've made it with zucchini, mushrooms, carrots, peas...whatever. It's very VERY yummy and very easy, and it's a one-bowl meal which means less dishes all around.

So there you go. Three recipes without meat that are amazing. I mean REALLY AMAZING. Try them out and be glad you did.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

7 Quick Takes: SUPER Grateful Edition

Joining Jen and the gang for a list of 7 things happenin' right now: 

It's 63 out with no sun, which means it's downright COLD here in Naples!! The low tonight is THIRTY NINE. All of us are breaking out our parkas and ski suits from when we bought them on 95% discount (just kidding...maybe). 

Speaking of tonight, guess what I'm doing this eve??? A MOM'S SLEEP OVER. This is basically the best idea ever. On about Wednesday of this week I get a text from my good friend Kristen (with the super cute baby, Hope, remember??) The gist is hey y'all party at the beach condo Saturday night - mommys and infants only!! Five gals, a few infants, some wine and cheesecake - I am beyond excited!! If you think this is a great idea, you should have one too. Just make sure to invite me :) 

Today was the Women's Conference here for the Diocese of Venice. I volunteered to help out my good friend Mary Beth and to hear some great speakers. Among them was the lovely Teresa Tomeo, who was enchanted with Zuzu. Who doesn't love my baby!?! 

When I got home from said conference, Mr. Oram was already at work but guess what he left me? A CLEAN HOUSE. That's right - I left my husband at 7am and came home at 3pm to find a beautiful sparkling house, laundry and dishes done, the whole shazam. I am a lucky woman, I tell you. 

In case you want to go on a pilgrimage and you think "What company should I go through?" I can tell you!! Corporate Travel, the group that planned our recent pilgrimage to Italy, was incredible. Not only did they beat out the other groups by $400, and give us the most incredible tour guide I have ever had, they also have the best customer service ever. They sent us a gift basket when Zuzu was born because they knew we were expecting, called Mr. O while we were abroad to make sure the trip was going well, and now that we're back sent a Harry and David gift tower to say thank you for using their services. I love them! And they're Catholic...just ask Steve Ray and Teresa Tomeo, who also use them to plan their Catholic Answers pilgrimages! 

Do you side-lie nurse? Let me tell you, I praise God for wherever I read about the idea. Today for Zuzu's afternoon nap, we laid in bed with the windows open, cuddle under the down comforter and while she nursed, I just thanked God for how blessed I am. Side - lying nursing is one of the best nursing positions for us and makes me feels so relaxed and happy. (um also I can fall asleep this way which is awesome)

In case you think my life is all sunshine and roses, I should also say that I spend 90% of my day today walking around smelling like really  nasty spit up since Zuzu had a bit of an upset tummy while I was wearing her in the Boba. She then smooshed her face into it so I think she smelled a little rank too. At least she's super cute in the bath...

over and out! 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Happy Four Months, Susannah

My Darling Girl -

It's been just four months!

Darling girl last week at the Papal audience (photo courtesy of Fr. John)

Four months of you being on this earth - and baby, they've been grand.

So long ago! One of your first baths, which you blissfully slept through. (photo courtesy of Mina Jen)

Sharing a sweet laugh with Madrina (Mina's instagram!)

You pulled out the big guns for month four, sweet child. In Assisi, you picked up a knife off the table - a heavy one! I panicked and gave you a fork. Daddy panicked and took it all away. You were not happy, but we were proud! 

Sweet Assisi, with all the olive trees (Father John)

That night at dinner, you picked up a little teaspoon and chewed on it. That's also the famous night that Mommy told the waiter she wanted "duo" of something, instead of "due." Our waiter was NOT impressed, but he was charmed by you. I'll post pics of that one later, when Auntie Jen comes back. 

Then you decided Firenze (Florence for us English-speaking folk) deserved some of your charms, and you rolled over in the pack n' play so sweetly set up by the hotel (and in which you slept all of 30 minutes total). Although this woke you up, we weren't even mad. We were so glad to see the Italian air agreeing with you! 

And then Rome. Oh, Rome. 

Shot of Saint Peter's, the best place on earth (Father John)

So many amazing sights and experiences in Rome, but for you, it was all about Daddy and the fact that while he was taking his usual 30 minutes to get you dressed (which I can do in about 7), you laughed for him. Laughed!! Clasped your hands and laughed at the peeka-boo game he played with your pants. Although green with envy, I loved watching you share that milestone to him. 

You 'met' the Pope this month. 

Father John catching Zuzu at her favorite activity - chewing on Daddy's thumb...during the Papal Audience, no less.

And you also met thousands of Italians and Poles and Germans and Franks who all wanted their picture with you because your little face begs people to stop and adore you. You gained new nicknames: 

Bella Bambolina

You were the toast of the town. You even nabbed yourself a boyfriend, Luca the Merciful. (so nicknamed our incredible wonderful magnificent tour guide, Liz Lev). I would post a pic of you two, but I do not yet have one. 

In short, it has been a blessed time with you. So often, I feel unworthy and far too young to be entrusted with you as my special gift. But I have to believe that God knew what he was doing when he sent you to us. He could have held back, but he didn't, and they say his timing is perfect. I hope that in some way, you are soaking up all the love and attention that is being poured into you right now. I want you to know that you have made our lives come alive in a way they never had before, and not just your dad and I, but so many others - Auntie Jen, Tia Jennine, Grand and Grandad, Gigi and Grampy, everyone who meets you is in some way refreshed. You are joy and beauty itself, you live up to your name perfectly: you make of our life a garden. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Farewell to a Father

There are so many good commentaries out there today about the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, deciding to abdicate his office at the end of the month.

This will not be one of them.

This is the only Father I have known; my image of the eternal God - wise, kind, thoughtful and measured, with an accented English. I love him.

Me on the night I became Catholic with my sponsor, Meg. 

Today my thoughts were filled with him, especially having so recently returned from Rome. Walking in Saint Peter's square at night, we saw his lights on in the Papal apartments. It was so very late and so very cold and I thought of him and wondered what he was doing up so late. Maybe now I know. Later that week when we saw him at the General Audience, he seemed particularly tender, but maybe that is only hindsight speaking. After a group of French school children sang songs to him and raised their banner, he set his remarks down and clapped. It melted my heart. 

So today I am mostly sad. Sad because the world understands him not; sad because my children will not know the great man under whom I came home; sad because I love seeing his face and calling out to him with everyone else whenever I would see him in a crowd - in DC, in Australia, in Rome. 

I know the Church will be fine. I know the seat of Saint Peter will be filled, no doubt, with one worthy of it. And maybe this is the beer talking (cause I've already had one, cause I wanted a fizzy drink and the only one in the house was a beer), but I really do love him and he will be so deeply missed as the leader of my Faith. 

PS To those who are hating on the Holy Father and our Faith in general, please realize that you only display your ignorance when you criticize what you do not know. It's like you're walking into a foreign country and talking about their politics (although this is so much more than politics); all the natives just stare at you and then get really mad. So ask more questions and seek to learn, but lean not on your own understanding. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Italy, Reality, Gratefulness

We are back from Italy! 

A memorable time in Florence. Right as our picture was being taken, Zuzu made a mad grab for the cup of hot (thankfully more like warm) chocolate! She doused her fingers and then tried to jam them in her mouth, but I caught her...all of this while the picture was being taken. Hilarious! 
Photo credit: Jen (as always)

But if you only know me from this blog, I barely even told you I was going.

Sorry 'bout that.

So I went to Italy for 10 days with my 3.5 month old and had a blast. (haha you didn't really think I was going to be THAT short-winded did you?) Soon I'll write all about it.

I'm back now and struggling to get back to reality after being gone. Our suitcases did their normal explosion all over the house, laundry is unbelievably overflowing, there was no food, there were some things we reeeeally should've cleaned before we left which led to some omg-what-is-that-smell conversations, and oh yeah, I have to go to work on Monday. (why did I think working was a good idea? I want to lay around the house with my baby again)

St. Peter's Basilica (Jen)

But I'm sitting on the couch and the breeze is blowing, my big lump of a dog at my feet, and I just wanted to send this out there: I'm so grateful.

I'm grateful that my family is healthy, that we can pay our bills, that we live in warm weather, that we got to go on vacation overseas, that our life is filled with friends and love and even pretty flowers in a vase on the table.

I don't think I always do the best job of putting it out there. I complain too much, maybe because I think it's cool or funny to be negative, to tear down, and although there's always a need for a pressure release valve, there's too much snark masquerading as 'venting' in my life.

And really that's so incredibly ungrateful. I have an overabundance of wonder in my life - what could I possibly begrudge another person, and what could I really have to complain about?

Nothing. Simply nothing.

I hope wherever you are, dear readers, you can enjoy what is in front of you. I hope your view is as wonderful as mine: a messy house, a drowsy redheaded husband, a snoring pup, a bowl of Hershey's kissses, a life overflowing with the goodness of God.