Saturday, August 24, 2013

7 Quick Takes

So Zuzu had her 9  mo appointment today and the docs were all like, "yeah no big deal only one vaccine to get!" and then they said "oh yeah sorry oops you're not caught up it's four." 
It made me very sad. Seeing her in distress breaks my heart, and of course, I'm still eaten up with (unfounded? founded??) guilt about vaccinating. 
I was looking over the recommended vaccine schedule and noticed that chicken pox was scheduled for 15 months. I asked if it was required and the NP said, yes it was at this practice. She tried to engage me in conversation about it, but I wasn't really ready to pick a side in that battle, so I demurred. Then she said "Well it's really because chicken pox can lead to other more serious diseases. But I encourage you to do your own research - I'm sure you'll make the most responsible choice." 
Was that a thinly veiled implication that to choose not to get the chicken pox vaccine is to be irresponsible? 
Not thrilled. 

Pic from vacation - we went to this awesome zoo that had an exhibit with colorful birds. You could buy bird seed on a popsicle stick, which would make the bird come to you! Great idea - Zuzu was entranced and tried to grab several.

I went to Goodwill the other day and scored a bunch of classics for $.99! War and Peace, the Old Man and the Sea, Wuthering Heights, Around the World in Eighty some old blankets to use for batting, some cute blankets to use for quilting, and some cloth napkins (nearly all of our cloth napkins come from Goodwill - people are always divesting themselves of them, and I am only too happy to snap them up at 50 cents a piece). 
Now I've got some reading to do! 

Uncle Tom knows how to hang with toddlers. 

As Zuzu gets older, I'm trying to become more conscious of my screen time...I read Elizabeth Foss write that when her kids are awake, she tries very hard not to be on a screen - be it computer, phone, or television. That's quite a commitment! I'm a little embarassed to say that since I read that, I've realized just how easy it is for me to "just check something real quick." 
I don't want to be that way - I don't want her to think the most important thing to me is my phone! The sad fact is that when she was born, and nursing so frequently, I got into the habit of reading articles on my phone....but she's big now. She might like some friendly mealtime conversation, or at the very least, some meaningful eye contact. 
This one is getting bumped up on my to-do list. 

Baby goat, meet baby Zuzu (please don't eat her hat).

With that said, I feel like I'm burned out on the Catholic blogosphere. I'm taking too much in that isn't giving anything back. It's like I'm in an echo chamber where I keep hearing the same things over and over again.
"The problem with the Church is..." 
"My kids ate poop again"
"I just custom designed a liturgically appropriate celebration out of dust and popsicle sticks!"
There a few authentic voices out there that I'm going to keep myself tuned into, but I've decided that it's okay to be picky about whose voice I'm letting into my life at every moment. I am so glad that everyone can have a niche in the blogosphere, but it's okay if I am not the reader of every  niche. 
Sometimes at the end of the day, I don't want to know.

Cousin Gabi and Zuzu love-fest!

Love squeezing these girls!

Also in my desire to have an outside chance at the lowest rung of purgatory is my decision to get off the 
 "nobody appreciates us orthodox Catholic baby-having people - we deserve stickers" band wagon. I don't need medals or approbations from every priest, old lady at the grocery store, or cranky relative when I am doing the bare minimum that God asks me to do
Yes, it often seems like a lot, but I think that's a problem with my perception, not my actual level of effort or energy put into being faithful. I don't want to seem stingy in giving back to God, I don't want to insist that everyone recognizes how great I am for being a faithful Catholic, and I don't want to stand in front of Christ on the Cross complaining about how people can be mean sometimes. 
It's just not the attitude I want to have (even often is the attitude I *do* have). 

Zuzu made THIS FACE all during vacation! Her scrunched up cheeser face! 
I think it's a great visual representation of my bad attitude.

Lighter topics!
Am giving serious thought to investing (can we really call this an investment piece?) in a petty coat. Y'know, those garments that make your skirts uber-full? I like that look and it goes with my hair. Plus, if I wear any kind of a skirt, Zuzu keeps occupied for hours trying to catch it and eat it - so, it's also a built in baby toy. 
I am nothing if not frugal. 

Two men and a baby - Zuzu with her Daddy and Grampy

I've been thinking lately - over and over and over - how blessed my family is by our general situation. My husband's job, job flexibility, my ability to be home with Zuzu, to even have Zuzu, our wonderful parish community, great supportive extended families. There is so much difficulty for some families based on situations they cannot control - a job far away, long hours, the necessity for the mother to work, a longing for babies that is not satisfied. 
Everything is gift, and I have so many gifts. I am trying to focus on being generous with what I have been given - generosity in thought, by giving the benefit of the doubt to all I meet; generous in action, by being more hospitable to those in my community; generous with my love, by being kind to my family and those closest to me. 

My little thoughtful baby at the Tampa Aquarium

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Needle and ThREAD / First Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real!

Two linkups I've had my eye on for a while now and I'm joining in...

needle and thREAD

round button chicken

Aren't these flowers lovely? Jen got them for me as a homecoming present! It was a lovely way to come back after over two weeks of being gone. 


If I had one, I would put a picture of me reading this book in my husband's childhood bedroom, which is how I spent a good bit of Zuzu's naptime over vacation. But instead this lovely cover of it will have to do. I read it and wept and loved it - I still feel parts of it beating in my heart. Understand, koritsimou?


As I'm getting more into my creative side, I realized my mother thoughtfully gave me a great deal of her quilting stash for reasons unknown (it's not as if she's stopped being wonderfully creative!). I decided to tear through it and see what it contained. it's contents are all over my living room, but I'm really feeling the creative juices flowing! 
I wanted to put this under happy, even though it isn't. I've been working on a blanket for a friend: 

It's just a small baby blanket - sorry I'm not the best at taking pictures! Just about 45 x 60, basically a big pillow case with some batting in there too. 

Rose fabric for a sweet baby named Rose, then the other side is a brown Fall type pattern, since her spring and summer season has already ended and she has gone home to Christ. It's happy to be able to make something for a mother missing a baby, happy to be able to do something with my hands for someone else. But it's so real - so many lovely babies coming into the word, and others only being held by Mary and not their earthly mothers. 
O Mary, Mother of God, pray for us! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tag? Liebster?

Jen AND Jennine (a great friend IRL who just joined the blogosphere! welcome chica!) 'tagged' me? I am unsure what this means, but I believe it is another variation of the Liebster award, which dear Laura nominated me for. Thus I will combine posts and this is a Tag-Liebster Blog Post. Edited: Because I worked on this post between Zuzu's 20 minute napping sessions, I totally forgot that my good friend Colleen nominated me for a Liebster award as well. In case you wondered just how much I could write about myself, I have added more to the bottom of this post. You can go ahead and not read - I really do understand! 

1. Post these rules.
2. Post a pic of yourself and then write 11 things about you/your life.
3. Answer the questions for you set in the original post.
4. Create 11 new questions and tagged people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog/Twitter to tell them you tagged them.

(I am not tagging anyone else, but instead, if you are reading this and are interested, I tag YOU)

Me, Zuzu, Grandma Jean

11 Things About Me...
  1. The Bar results will be given out in October. This time, I promise to tell you all before...the new year?
  2. There are a lot of aspects of my life I used to enjoy, but now cannot because of a baby (like airports or car trips). On the up side, there is much more to enjoy, like just cleaning the house - because she's so funny to be around.
  3. My husband and I have one car, and we prefer it. After a friend generously loaned us her car for some time, I realized we communicate better with one vehicle.  
  4. There was a book that moved me to become a Christian back when I was twelve, but after reading it, I lost it and I can't remember what it was. Now I wonder if this book even exists or if I just had some sort of mystical experience? No, really!
  5. Despite #4, I am logical to a fault. Sometimes it crowds out emotion.
  6. My FIL told me that I was "very flexible" in terms of scheduling and I was really proud of that as a compliment. It bugs me when others freak out because plans change - just go with the flow, people.
  7. I don't understand why pure facts don't convince people to do things; it seems to me most people live their lives based on how they feel, not on reality. See #5. 
  8. I vastly prefer cloth napkins to paper and rags to paper towels. I hate buying items over and over again if it's possible to have a reusable option. 
  9. I don't "get" reality TV, gross pop music, and trashy books. It just seems like a big waste of time.
  10. I adore tea. Even in hot weather. I'm like the idiot Britons in India who insisted on keeping tea time.
  11. I would be a better gardner if I wasn't battling potato vine. 
Jen's questions to me:

  1. If you could go to ANY country RIGHT NOW, where would you go? Ah, so hard. Greece, I suppose. 
  2. Are you a toilet paper up or down kinda person? I am indifferent.
  3. Fave Catholic speaker? I really enjoyed Pam Stenzel, but I could listen to Fr. John Ricardo aaaaall day long. Oh, also Scott Hahn. And his wife. And Peter Kreeft was incredible. And...well, maybe I'm not the best person to ask.
  4. Do you like Facebook or Twitter better? Twitter hands down. I don't know why I'm even still on FB.
  5. What is one or two pieces of jewelry you wear everyday? Wedding rings (when I don't forget them in my apron pockets) and I try to wear earrings. They always make me feel put-together. Lately I've been sporting some super cute studs, a gift from my dear friend Jen Fisher.
  6. Describe your perfect sandwich. Bread toasted for sure, with avocado and bacon...beyond that, it could go in several directions, so long as it's NOT cold cuts. Chicken breast maybe? Stone ground mustard? Miracle whip? So many options.
  7. Would you rather drive, fly or take a train somewhere? At this point in my life, I'd rather go nowhere. Zuzu hates the car and every other form of transportation is just me keeping track of three people's crap stuff. I would really just rather stay home. Unless we're talking about traveling sans baby. In which case, fly.
  8. Beach or snow? Snow hands down. The beach is overrated - too hot, too much sand going bad places, and besides, I have skin cancer to worry about so I park myself under the umbrella anyway. BUT if a pool is an option I'll take the pool. Love pools and water parks. 
  9. Fave thing about your home? How small it is. What a blessing to have a small house! Helps me to focus on what is essential and what needs to go. My husband can (usually) hear me when I call. Also, no room for walking away and pouting - we're always running into each other. Can't stay mad when you really cannot avoid one another!
  10. What do you think about tattoos? Would you get one? I have some and I wouldn't get anymore. I like mine, but they belong to a different part of my life. 
  11. If you were going to go out with your girlfriends... what would you want to do?  Dinner? Drinks? Dancing? Ah, out with girlfriends. Hopefully dinner and drinks, after a day of maybe lounging by the pool. Just a lot of time to talk and relax! Some time with kids, some time without. I love the company of great women, sharing each other's burdens and relating. I draw strength so much from that! 

And since Jennine also tagged me with questions, I'll answer her 11 as well...

1. Favorite book? Yikes! This is HARD. I'd have to say two right now, one light hearted and one serious, although both funny (because no book should be without humor). Corelli's Mandolin is more serious and The Florence King Reader is...well, just fabulous.
2. Favorite vacation spot? Chautauqua. Welcome Valley. Any place with peace and quiet, a body of water, cool breezes, hammocks, plenty of nature. 
3. Best childhood memory? So many! Go-Kart riding on Christmas morning, shopping for a Christmas tree with my dad, meeting my nieces and nephews for the first time, having a 'shaving cream fight' birthday party, living with my Grammy, vacation to Welcome Valley to see K and E.
4. Best piece of advice? Do not just respond to situations based on emotions; assess things rationally and then decide how you'll respond. You have free will and should make good use of it; you look foolish when your emotions rule you. Also, ignore everything and I say and do what God asks of you.
5. What qualities are important to you in a friend? Kindness, optimism, benefit of the doubt, Faith, not too sensitive, and lack of idiocy. 
6. Describe your happy place. Tom, Zuzu, our families, water, good food, music and prayer. What else do I need?
7. What is the one meal or food that is worth going "off" for? Off? Off what? Like a diet? I don't think I diet. If food is good, I eat it. But I'll say, I'm willing to spend the money for local food - I want to support local farmers. 
8. Describe your style? What do you think it says about you? My style is...classy nursing friendly? haha. I like a more tailored buttoned up style. I own one pair of jeans that I rarely wear. I like patterned shorts and bright tops, cardigans and dresses. In general, I am not a fan of pants on me.
9. Do you prefer small town life or city life? Small town for sure. Cities are overrated - except for DC, which is amazing and doesn't feel like a big city. 
10. Which Saint do you identify with the most and why? Yikes. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, probs.
11. Share a great healthy recipe or product. Coconut rice...make rice normally but with coconut milk instead of water. Add pinch of salt and agave. Very good. OR, collard greens are very good and easy and healthy. Put greens in a big pot, cover with equal parts water and chicken broth (preferably homemade). Season liberally with salt and pepper, add some bacon or a ham hock. Bring to boil, then let it simmer for about an hour but it can go much longer. You can also fix kale this way. It's a great side for steak. OR (look at me I'm a roll) sweet potato fries. Cut up a sweet potato. Toss it in some coconut oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder. Bake at 400 until done (they'll be easily pierced by a fork, but crispy on the outside) - probably turn 'em over after 10 or 15 min to get both sides even. I burn them all the time and they're still delicious.

From Laura, a looong time ago! Who graciously nominated me for a Liebster award! 

1. Favorite book: See above
2. Favorite movie: Open Range? Pride and Prejudice? 300? For Greater Glory? So many...but ultimately, it would be - Arranged.
3. Finish this sentence: “What I really want to know is - what do I have to do today to be holy? 
4. Big influence (person, event, thing, situation, etc.) on you while growing up: My mom. Hands down.
5. If money were no object, what kind of house would you live in? Big big big big big house, maybe French Colonial, a farmhouse, even American Craftsman? Georgian, Victorian - I'm not picky. BIG. Enough for all the people I want to host. Big formal living and dining, fireplaces, great room, big huge kitchen, tons of beds and baths. Big enough for my whole family and all our friends. (I realize this stands in stark contrast to the 'what do you like most about your house' question, but I never said it would be good for me to get what I want!).
6. Name a book on your shelf that you can’t get around to reading (or finishing): Flippin' Dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena. I can never quite close it.
7. Favorite quote: "Disciples of the Lord, hold close those who are near and seek out those who are lost." (originally in Spanish, in the chapel in Banica, DR)
8. Something you could do over differently if you could: My whole life before I was Catholic? :) summer of 2006. Law school.
9. Something you would never do differently: My year at CUA, senior year of college, my pregnant with Zuzu, Zuzu's first 6-8 weeks.
10. Blog you’ve recently started following: In the Heart of My Home 
11. Blog you’ve been following the longest: Enjoying the Small Things

Colleen's questions: 
1. What was your dream job as a child? Are you living it out now? Hm...y'know, I don't know that I really had a dream job. I was actually remarkably unambitious. But I know I always wanted to be a mom, so yes, I am definitely living out my dream. 
2. What was your favorite game/toy to play with as a child? Why? I was not the biggest fan of games. I like Scrabble and Monopoly, I liked acting, but really, I just liked reading. By myself. With some cheese and crackers.
3. If you had $1 Million, and only 30 days to spend it, how would you? Oh man...okay, I would pay off my student loans, pay off our house, pay off my parents' house and any of their debts, buy a new car, do everything I want to for the home (driveway, fenced backyard, paint, decorate, new AC, new furniture, maybe even a second story). After that, I'd discern the greatest needs in my area or where God wanted me to send the money. 
4.  What's your favorite room in your house? The guest room? These days it's the only one that's half way clean.
5. How do you unwind after a long day? Reading a Southern Living magazine, quilting, planning my next sewing project. 
6. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? I have been blessed to travel a lot, so the only remaining places that I REALLY want to go are Greece, Spain, and the Pacific Northwest United States. 
7. What's the best birthday you have ever had? My 21st birthday was so incredibly special! But I also really loved my 23rd, when a whole bunch of my friends and my family all stayed at the beach together! Such a great time, and I was so thrilled that so many people came. Jen, Colleen, and I were all living in DC and we flew down to Florida together. What a blast!! 
8. Craziest thing you've ever done that you would never do again? Skinny dipping. 'Nuff said.
9. Favorite way to pray. Praise and worship adoration.
10. What's the wildest dream you can still recall? Uuuuh probably my zombie dream when I was pregnant with Zuzu. Whoa, so intense! But that's a whole blog post...
11. If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? My paternal grandmother, Dorothy Gosnell Rogers. I never got to meet her, but everyone says I look like her. I want to hear about her and her life growing up poor in rural Georgia. I feel like she would have a lot to say and she could explain so much about me that sometimes feels out of place. 

And now I'm done!

Sunday, August 18, 2013


Coming back from vacation can feel like a fresh start - when we walked in the front door, everything looked new to me since I hadn't seen it in nearly three weeks. The break from the day-to-day tasks also renewed my desire to keep house - it's amazing how useless one can feel with no laundry to do, kitchen to clean, etc. (I did try to help around the house on vacation - but it's always hard in someone else's house to know how things are done!).

Baby on a plane

Now that I am back, with no studies to stress about, I can finally turn my attention to my life! The real things of life that I have so missed: making a home, beginning to quilt and sew again, running. Mr. Oram and I frequently talk about how we always seem to have excuses for why we're putting life 'on hold', endless reasons why we don't establish routines - we don't have a baby yet, we're pregnant, we have a newborn, we have an infant, we have a baby that's into everything, studying for the Bar, it's the summer, it's football season, it's busy season...we are endlessly creative! 

But at some point, we just have to bite the bullet and make the life we want.

Blurry mama and baby picture. We had the middle seat empty - praise God. 

It is still mind-boggling to me that in the first year of our marriage, when we were childless, I really seemed to do nothing about the house. I have come to the conclusion that those long months were a sort of delayed depression and near-comatose state wherein I recovered from eight consecutive years of higher education and then the tornado that ate my house. 

But still, in retrospect, I wonder - why didn't I paint the walls? Recover furniture? Organize my linen closets? All the many things I'm doing now. I suppose I am nesting in reverse - the older she gets, the more I want to do to make this a beautiful home. 

A very enjoyable afternoon at the lake shore, with Zuzu styling in clothes entirely provided by Grand. 

I am finding my way. I am so grateful for the guidance of both my peers an the generations before me. My own mother being here this summer was an incredible gift; not only because it was another pair of hands to do everything I couldn't, but also to see how she did it. The sad thing is that I went straight from adolescence (living at home, being cared for, having nothing truly valuable) to being in college (barely taking care of myself) to being a young wife (suddenly having to take care of two people, with many valuable and nice things, none of which I know how to care for). Thankfully, between my mom and Auntie Leila and this really weird but aptly named Project Organize Your Entire Life (POYEL), I might actually have some order in my another year (if I don't get pregnant and we start living in a hotel).

Isn't she just the preppiest? She gives you an insight into my clothing preference, I'm sure. 

Beyond house care, self care is also a new learning curve for me. Gone are the days where I had two hours to get ready, when I had a whole closet or room or more to myself and my clutter, when I did not have to worry about nursing accessibility in my clothing! Laura has truly inspired me to be more mindful of my wardrobe. Throughout the summer, I have been weeding out my closet and being more confident in buying nice pieces that will last a long time. It's hard to be honest with what works and what doesn't, but I cannot keep items for sentimental value alone - at least, not so many items! 

Auntie Leila again did me a great service by discussing self-care in her aptly titled "How To Take a Shower" (more useful than you'd think). For a very long time, it has been a deeply held belief of mine that I am a long hair person. My hair became part of my personality, I couldn't imagine having short hair (again). I think it has something to do with my insecurity about my weight. But then I cut it and have found, shockingly and suddenly, that I love it. It's not that it's necessarily easier, but that it just seems to work for me more at this point in time. 

Visiting Grandma Jean. These moments were very precious to me, since none of my grandparents ever got to meet Susannah. 

The first two books are by a Jesuit priest, Fr. James Martin. I was pleasantly surprised by My Life with the Saints - it was quite moving at times, and a thoughtful gift from my sister-in-law. The Jesuit Guide was, however, a struggle. I am angry at the Jesuits, honestly, for promoting heresy and allowing their house to get so out of order. I associate them with Georgetown and it makes my blood boil. 

Brain Rules is a fun read, confirming what most people know: television does in fact rot the brain, those Baby Einstein DVDs are total crap, and being involved emotionally with your children is a really good way to have well-adjusted kids in the long term. Still worth a read though - lots of great stuff in there. 

The two greatest gems were by far Real Learning and Corelli's Mandolin (one of Mr. Oram's favorite books that I've been meaning to read since 2009!). Real Learning is about Catholic homeschooling in the Charlotte Mason style - it combines how-to with an exhortation about why-to. It was glorious; Elizabeth Foss is one of the few bloggers today that can be realistic and idealistic, which is a highly motivating combo for me. I thoroughly enjoyed and recommend the book. Corelli's Mandolin...what can  I say about this book. The vocabulary quite surprised me - I needed a dictionary to accompany it! The humor was delightful - but the story. The story slayed me. I have not read fiction that good is so long, my heart wanted to burst. It gave me that 'queer ache' that Anne talks reminded me why I love reading. 

If you have the chance, read that book. It will also explain to you why communism it total crap, incidentally.

Being silly at a baseball game

Cousin love

But now I'm home and Zuzu is sick (again). She got sick on vacation, got better, and is now sick again. We had a long night last night. Would you say a few prayers for her? 

So glad to be back - I've missed y'all! 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Theology of Baby

Today we had a great time on our first day post-Bar exam.
A huge weight has been lifted and I got to spend the whole day with my babe AND my husband - oh the luxury! We went to the Tampa Aquarium, spent some time at their water park, then back to the hotel for naps, and then to a friend's house for dinner with a whole group of awesome people. 

The diver show at the Aquarium. 

Zuzu was NOT paying attention to the divers and NOT wanting to sit still in the stroller! 

Ducks perched RIGHT on the railing! 

While taking an after-dinner walk, I fell into conversation with a FOCUS missionary who is a friend of Kristin's dad. I was asking him about life as a missionary, whether he was allowed to be married, what sort of life there is in that. As we were walking and chatting, Zuzu decided her stroller was not good enough - she wanted to be held. It was hot, even in the evening shade, and I did not want to carry her and try to maneuver the stroller over the old sidewalk too. But I picked her up and rather without thinking, said "God the Father holds me whenever I ask, so I'll do the same for you."

"Mama, what do you have?"

"Let me come see..."

"I want to have it!!" 

"How could you resist my bald head?"

As the walk continued, I had the chance to reflect on that thought. It's come to my mind often during these nine months of parenthood, but it feels revolutionary every time: my husband and I's job, as parents, is to model for our child the love of God. It causes me to think about how God deals with me - the extravagant way in which he loves me, and how I am to pour that out on Zuzu in return. It is such an awesome, and terrifying, responsibility - to show her that such love is possible.

Sitting pretty at the water park area

Blinded by the light...after repeatedly tearing her sun hat off...

Zuzu's love, too, is inspiring. In any fear or slightest upset, she turns to me. If she is unsure, she wants to feel me there, behind her, before she sets off on a new and uncertain task. Before she ventures too far, she checks to see where that I am there and watching, approving. If she is frightened, hungry, cold, hot, or lonely, she asks for me. Such confidence - such holy boldness! She is my model for how I should go to my Heavenly Father, to show him plainly my needs and ask him to meet each and every one.

Lots of bath time at the end of the night since we had to wear a ton of sunscreen AND bug spray! 

God is so immeasurably generous to me. He is endlessly patient, loving, and kind. No request is ever too small or too big; he is always ready to listen, to correct, to teach. Calling this to mind frequently makes my life beautiful - it is easier to avoid feeling overwhelmed by her insatiable need for me. Every nighttime waking, fear of something that she loved ten seconds before, cranky crying, hating the stroller   - I see in it her deeper desire every moment for me. I observe in the world a constant frustration that children are not satisfied by what we give to them: many parents are at their wits end that their children refuse to be happy with a toy, a game, a snack, a ride, a stroller ride, a television show. But children's needs were created to be met by people - by their parents, their siblings, their family. Children, unlike adults, refuse to be satisfied with the quick-fixes of the world. They refuse to feel loved, soothed, or fulfilled by material things - instead, they cry out like Christ "Abba! Father!" (or whatever the Hebrew equivalent of 'mama' is!).

It won't always be like this. I'll have my moments, like we all do. But right now, I'm so grateful for this needy baby - because it is so good to be able to satisfy all her needs.