Saturday, September 28, 2013

Goals I Never Thought I'd Reach

I apologize for the theme that I will be harping on for probably the next month, the I-can't-believe-my-child-is-a-year-old theme.

I knew she was growing, of course, could see the changes in her day by day and week by week. But somehow, it all felt so far off - all that big kid stuff. She still curls in my lap to nurse, I wear her around the house, she doesn't talk. But then last week she took three steps! Then again and again she did it. Now suddenly she wants to sit at her high chair and eat whole bowls of pasta while demolishing a sippy cup. Where did my baby go?

Teeeny tiiiiny!

Before we got pregnant, when I wondered if children were in God's plan for us, I mentally made myself comfortable with the idea of never being pregnant. I thought about the good works we could do with our extra time and money, I knew we would look into adoption, and I knew that if it was God's will, there would be peace and joy in my heart. But I always viewed it as two choices: a childless life OR a life bursting with children. I thought I'd either be barren or Grace Patton (i.e., many smaller children very close in age).

But it looks like I'm not. It looks like I'm one of those women for whom ecological breastfeeding works REALLY REALLY WELL. i.e., a baby can only come when my cycle returns, i.e., super sorry for the overshare Dad, i.e., maybe I'll ovulate when Zuzu weans, sometime before her freshmen year of high school (was that crossing a line? are you grossed out, Jen? Coll? Sorry!).

I have to make peace with a whole bunch of new ideas about my family. That Zuzu and her siblings might be spaced further apart, that I may have fewer children as a result of that spacing, or that I could have no more children (secondary infertility IS a thing). Isn't it so dumb? You think I'd get it by now - God is in charge of my family! Mr. Oram and I started our life together with the understanding that he always would be, that we would trust him with our family size. But I always thought that would be stoically accepting my childless state while aging gracefully, or blissfully embracing the craziness of six kids in seven years while being able to blame any lingering 10 pounds on constantly being postpartum. I didn't think it'd be smiling graciously through the three-inquiries-in-a-row of "isn't it time she get a sibling?"

I keep trying to type more, but what comes out is not good so I think I'll sign off without any great message or closure.

Just didn't think I'd hit my baby's first birthday without being pregnant.

Friday, September 27, 2013

I'm Ignoring All of You

It's official.

I am no longer interested in any type of disagreement on the internet.

At first it was gradual, but then it became a monsoon and now it's official: I am ignoring all of you who are posting about any kind of 'war.' Catholic wars, mommy wars, culture wars, wars on women or drugs or the homeless. Consider this my virtual truce, my declaration of cyber pacifism, my white flag: I am laying down my weapons and checking out.

I have struggled about all that Pope Francis has written along with the rest of you, generally faithful/orthodox/just-want-doctrine-to-be-doctrine Catholics. I resonated a lot with Dr. Popcak's piece and his struggles with our Holy Father's interview. I found Calah's post to be very moving.. But for now, I've decided to just stop listening to the MSM (main stream media) or the CM (Catholic media) or anyone else and what the Holy Spirit and the Pope are asking: get off my ass and live my faith.

And while I am sometimes genuinely interested in how other people parent, mostly I do not care - and the more I read about it, the more I might START caring and that I do not want to do. I get up and try to love my baby, but so far, we haven't hit any issues where I've said "I need help, I don't know what to do." It's not like that's a shocker - she isn't even a year old. She can't talk. We're still working on mobility here, people. I don't need to read everybody else's nasty words about why they potty train at six months/eat only a vegan diet/breastfeed till age ten/spank/ don't spank/ kill people who spank, etc.

I realized lately that I really need to stop seeing people who disagree with me as the enemy. I finally got it into my head that even if someone is a liberal, commie, gay-marriage-loving vegetarian who hates guns, that Christ died for THEM. Them as they are, not perfected and believing all the right things, but His mercy is extended to them as they are. Meditating upon the parable of the prodigal son has been very helpful to me because the father ran to the son before he even apologized or spoke a Word; I have to think that God might be happy that people are coming to Him, even if they are coming to him wounded and messed up. It's kind of sad it took me so long because, really, God came to me as I was - an immodest pro-choice tattooed girl with a potty mouth and more baggage than a Kardashian.

I don't want to stop believing or passing on the Truth. I won't change my mind that abortion is wrong, that gay marriage is bad for society, or that bikinis are immodest. But I want to start focusing on people more than issues, faces more than policy points. I'm tired of having to decide who I can really invest in based on whether or not they agree with what the Church teaches at this exact moment. I need to stop giving myself reasons why I don't have to be kind, or patient, or reach out to that person. Because if my mentors had been the way I am, I never would have become Catholic - it never would have even interested me - it would have passed me by as yet another clique-y group on campus, instead of entrancing me for the saving message that it is.

All that to say - I'm still reading your blogs, honest. But I'm going to stop giving you mental space when you start gearing up for battle because...I'm in the field hospital, along with everybody else.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fabric Snobbery

Mr. Oram and I ran errands yesterday - nothing fancy, just the bank, post office (package coming your way, Santellanos! And Rolfe-Hancocks, and Eyerlys...), and Wal-Mart.

Oh, Wal-Mart.

Do you live better because of Walmart? Do you??

I had a roommate once who looooved to hate on Wally World. Talked about what a big bad corporation it was. But I find that line of complaining to be a first world whine. Sure, if you can afford to shop at Target, it's obviously a more pleasurable shopping experience. But if you need stuff cheap, guess where you go? Wal-Mart! 


So I treat Wal-Mart the same way I treat vaccines: I use it, but feel guilty for doing so (everybody has to compromise and this is mine). I usually go into Wal-Mart quickly - no leisurely strolling, no looking around - this is not Target or Whole Foods. This is not The Mall or even a cool flea market. There's no Starbucks or free trade coffee counter - only a Subway, wafting its odd fake-bread smell around the checkout aisles. 

This bread is fake. I know what real baking bread smells like - I make it myself.

So we are doing our stealth mission (bread machine yeast and spray paint, being the scary bread-making-vandals we are) and trying to keep Zuzu from eating the cart lest she catch scary germs that only live on Wal-Mart shopping carts, when we pass by the fabric section. Now, I don't consider myself prideful about fabrics - I shop Goodwill for blankets and plus-sized dresses with good prints for my fabric stash! No pride here! 

Except I have NEVER looked at Wal-Mart fabrics. "Ew," I think to myself "they're probably all polyester." (100% cotton is the best for quilting.)

But I saw a big red CLEARANCE sign...and thought, "I'll bet that's pretty cheap." And since being cheap frugal is now like an Internet Sensation, I went over and found...

Great fabric.

For CHEAP. I'm not talking $7 a yard, $5 a yard...TWO DOLLARS A YARD. People, that is a great deal. And it's cute!

Don't worry, my house isn't becoming awash in a sea of fabrics I don't need/will never use. These fabrics were bought with purpose! Somebody turns one in just a few weeks...

Ahem...Grand, ever since conquering stairs at your place, she is a climbing fiend. I blame you. 

A little light reading of her prayer book. We have a very holy genius baby - obviously. 

And I didn't want to buy $50 worth of pumpkins for her folklorico/day of the dead/fall/harvest themed party. So instead, I'm making fabric pumpkins. 

They'll be like this, except no where near as attractive, because I'm a good-enough person, not a perfectionist person. Tutorial here, pic by Danielle Thompson.

So if you are like me and shop at Wal-Mart but still like to pretend it's beneath you...get over yourself. They have great fabric. 
And after a while, you stop noticing the smell of 'bread'.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Cloudy Dumb Day

I hate days that are so cloudy it feels like you're stuck at 7am when really it's...almost noon. It makes everyone want to sleep all day - except me. It makes me annoyed. I have things to do, Monday. Quit trying to make me so lazy!

So this weekend my mom came and helped us paint our living room. I told someone about my mom the other day - how amazing she is. What does your mom do when she comes to visit? Mine usually buys bleach, paper towels, and food (I don't use the first two and she always judges my food storage to be deficient) and then spends 48 hours cleaning the bathroom/fridge/floors/garage/whatever else she judges needs cleaning. And sometimes, she paints. She very carefully tapes off everything, does the cut in work, brings her own brushes and rollers and does two carefully blended coats. Then she cleans up and leaves.

She's like a magic fairy, basically.

So she painted our living room (I did try to help - but so did Zuzu) this past weekend and now it looks so grown up! We re-arranged the furniture too and that helped a great deal, plus changed out the curtains (i.e., I swapped out the curtains from the guest room, since that room has no appreciable color scheme). I can't say it's quite done, yet - I'm spray painting the old stand lamps we had in there to spruce them up and trying to figure out how things should go on the wall.

But now I'm on a kick! I want to paint more, organize more, more more...I feel bad for living here for so long and not having invested very much. It's like I just kept expecting my house to look coordinated if I cleaned it enough, but...that was definitely not the problem. Of course what I really want is a new coach (brown leather) and to re-do the bathrooms (rip out the vanities and ugly mirrors) but what I'll actually end up doing is probably recovering the two chairs and finally framing a ton of things that are stuffed in my 'to be framed one day' box.

MOVING ON - I took a meal to a lovely friend who had a baby and guess what? I got to hold the baby! Usually I don't like to hold people's newborns - I'm always a bit nervous about my own standards of cleanliness, lets be honest - but this one was fussy and so sweet looking and the mom offered and then...bliss. Baby bliss!!

To all the people who are asking: we'll get pregnant again when God decides it's time. When you ask, it's really awkward, since I don't want to start talking PCOS-cycles-menstration-ovulation-mucus. So lets skip it and just talk about the miracle baby I DO have!

Hope your rainy day was grrrrreat.

Friday, September 20, 2013

7 again, always 7

Seven Quick Taaakes. With Jen.
Dear Lord help me all I can manage to do is write link-ups...

My mom comes TODAY. Paint me excited. (what color is that? red? or is that only whorehouses? just wondering - asking for a friend) Actually, we ARE painting - that's why she's coming. We are painting the living room! (finally...why oh why didn't I paint the house when we didn't have a baby, y'know, the first 16 months of our marriage? right cause I was d-d-dumb)
But moving all the furniture today has told me that 1) we are disgusting dirty people and 2) I still hate tile. With tile all the yucky stuff just goes to the farthest wall and stays there, fermenting into a yucky stuff ball of disgusting. Pretty gag worthy!

Am I the only one who finds purging stories so refreshing? It makes me want to throw out everything in my home - and then buy new things to complain about. This must be the definition of first world problems. "I have so much stuff! I have to clean it myself! I can't afford a maid because I keep buying so much stuff! Ugh!"

I found this today and had a moment of silence for my long hair. 

Went to Lowes to get paint (in pale orange - God help me) and grabbed some seriously awesome plants in the 50% off-almost-dying rack. Wooooo! 10 plants for $35? Don't mind if I do. Now I will nurse them back to health in my very own plant nursery.

We're going for this, but oddly enough, the paint came with none of these accessories...???

I like to get magazines on my nook so that I'm not cluttering up the house - but it also means that I'm always behind in my reading, because I forget to charge it - A LOT. So the other day I'm perusing a Women's Health from June 2011 or something like that, and find out that the magazine editors decided to write a letter to their readers telling them that in the upcoming election, politicians wanted to take away their birth control - or make the morning after pill illegal. Worse! Personhood amendments, the magazine warned, would protect fertilized eggs before they become a pregnancy.
Look, I'm not a scientist here, but if you've got a fertilized egg inside your body, you're either pregnant or...oops, nope, there are no other options, you're pregnant!
Why do the editors of women's magazines continually presume that all women are interested in is not getting pregnant, looking hot, and giving pleasure to whoever we're shacking up with? I can't believe they insist that THEY are the people who are all about women's rights and we're the oppressive ones...riiiight.

August - November is the birthday season run around here. We have two in August, four in September, three in October, and one in November. By the time we get to Christmas, we're all exhausted - and then we have a January and February. March is a slight reprieve, then April we've got two...but then the summer stretches out, lovely and birthday-less (except for you, Grammy in Heaven, we won't forget June 3rd don't worry).
What is everyone else's present policy? A friend of mine told me the other day that she and her husband don't even buy their kids ANY Christmas presents. At first I almost fell off the chair, but then I realized that they just communicate with grandparents about what they want for the kids and...that's that. Otherwise, she explains, the gifts would be so overwhelming that the holiday would lose all meaning. As Zuzu's first birthday comes up, I'm beginning to see her logic, but the idea of not buying anything makes me sad. Maybe I'll settle for making lots of projects for her instead - quilt a few blankets, etc.

Could YOU say no to this face? I cannot. Even when it's not talking.

Another ask-the-readers edition: how do you deal with photos, momentos, etc? I'm afraid they'll take over our house if I let them. Pretty albums are all well and good, but that takes up valuable shelf space that could be used for, you guessed it, BOOKS. But I can't just get rid of everything sentimental. Tips?

There are many reasons I love Mr. Oram, but one of them is conversations like this:

Me: Lets go cuddle. I'm sad.
Him: Oh, okay. Are you alright?
Me: YES I just NEED to cuddle
(we go cuddle)
Him: Tell me why your sad.
Me: no...
Him: Did you read something sad on the internet?
Me: YES there's this mom and she has breast cancer and it's horrible!
Him: I figured it was something like that. It'll be okay. We'll pray for her tonight....but right now, lets have a nap.

That man knows me too well.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Five Favorites

Just a few things I really love this week:

This apple cake recipe, from the good folks at King Arthur Flour company. My family has really enjoyed it this week and it's kicked off my Fall baking season. Note: I added one container of child sized apple sauce to my batter, but otherwise made it as directed. I did not find it too sweet, like many in the comments said, so I would make it with the frosting.

Bridal Bouquet Plumeria:

Last week, Mr. Oram and I went to the Botanical Gardens and while there, saw a lovely stand of this kind of plumeria. What made it especially nice was that the trees were clipped to be like tall hedges (think ficus, about six feet high) and the blossoms trailed all the way down the entire length of the hedge.
I told Mr. O that I seemed to remember Danielle Bean getting a tree or a plant every year for Mother's Day - or for the birth of a child? Anyway, we decided it's a lovely idea. So we have some catching up to do! Shop for plants? Twist my arm...

First birthday planning! Her birthday is harvest theme - pumpkins, apples, hay rides - so my mom and I have had fun finding decorations and planning. Bobbing for apples, donuts on a string, pumpkin cake, chili, cornbread...good times for all!
I have had more fun than I should making a list of gifts for Zuzu for her first birthday and first Christmas. When I think of lovely things for my girl, mostly what fills my mind are books, books, more books - and maybe some bows thrown in for good measure!
The fun part is that now she will sit in my lap while I read to her. She studies the pictures, watches where my finger points, and sometimes points to things herself, makes a questioning sound and looks up at me. I can see her brain working, trying to categorize those symbols while chewing on all these sounds...learning is so fascinating!

Building a fabric stash.
Full disclosure: mine looks nothing like this - it is not this large, color-coordinated, or even neat. Mine is strewn about in odd heaps in the guest room, helpfully organized by Zuzu. 

We coupon'd it up at Joannes the other day, and I got some great fabrics for last-minute Christmas projects I'm working on. I did apologize to my dear husband the other day that my two favorite hobbies, gardening and sewing/quilting, are so very expensive. But they're so very fun! At least I'm a simple girl...give me a gift card to Joannes, Lowes, and Homegoods and my cup runneth ovah.


Rainbow Strip Quilt by Chicken Julie, made/sold 2011

Oh it's true - I'm beyond obsessed. While I nurse the baby, I just scroll through endless pictures of beautiful beautiful quilts. They're a bit intimidating to me on one hand - all that CUTTING and it has to be PRECISE - and as we know, I am never precise in my creativity. That's why up until now I've only done very simple quilts - strip quilts, or quilted lap duvets (basically, big pillow cases). But I have a big project ruminating in my head, so maybe I'll get ambitious soon enough and try to really quilt.

Friday, September 13, 2013

7 again...

It seems my blogging is reduced to quick-taking it, but it'll have to do for now.

I've had a lot of thoughts bopping around my head about motherhood/homemaking/wife-ness. But it was a good summary when I was talking to a friend the other day and she said "what's hard for you?" and I had to say..."nothing." Nothing is hard for me. That isn't to say, I do not find some tasks or days or moods difficult, but is it really HARD? No; I make it hard through my attitude, usually my reluctance to surrender to God's will for that moment - but it is not hard. Then I was stuck wondering if I was being prideful. Does my perception of spiritual/emotion exertion correspond to my high pain tolerance? Or am I just in for a big whoopin' from God, since I'm a big prideful sinner?

Zuzu enjoying cousin love at the Napa wedding

Today, Mr. O and I were enjoying some rare cuddle time on the couch during Zuzu's nap. I was reading a book, he was dozing, and out of the corner of my eye, I see the loveseat on the patio begin to levitate. I quickly turned my head and saw the loveseat was actually raising off the ground several inches, then lowering, and moving side to side. We scrambled off the couch and rushed over to see...our friendly neighborhood tortoise, convinced he could slide under the loveseat and get to the lovely grass just off the porch.
I went outside to convince him to go back down the ramp whence he came, but he decided instead to push his way between two wooden bars (they were already a bit rickety, now I can assure you they are entirely askew) and scamper away, hissing at me all the while.
Also - there were two odd piles of poo on the porch. Were they turtle poo? Dog poo? Google did not help me find an accurate description of turtle droppings, since apparently the Maryland Terps use this nomenclature for some sort of fan-pride. Gross.

Mr. O took the day off today (yaaaay) and we had fun times, which included a trip to Joanne's and the Botanical Gardens. I got out of Joanne's without spending all our life savings (always a miracle), but sadly discovered that the Botanical Gardens had gotten rid of the roses I liked so much. Also, Zuzu got stung by a bee, which I think gave her father a heart attack, but she was alright after some very immodest public nursing and playing in the water feature.

Showing us the programs, also Napa wedding

I am still working on being more contentious about my online interactions. I'm challenged on one hand, especially by Barbara Nicolosi's chapter "Plugging in and Embracing Discipleship in the Twenty-First Century" in the good Sex, Style and Substance book. She challenges the trend of faithful Catholics towards "Amishness." But I'm left wondering - are we ALL called to be so engaged in the culture? Are some of us called to engage in different ways? So much of what is out there is hogwash - twaddle - rubbish - just plain ol' bad. Or if it's not any of those, it's redundant - it's an echo chamber. I'm still struggling with my longing to live in a cave.

My baby turns one in LESS THAN A MONTH. Just a bit freaking out here. And while at first I thought, oh small party mostly close friends and typical Oram fashion I've been orally inviting every person I've seen for the past three weeks, so I think I've already crossed that bridge.
But can I have it catered??

Look who found my huge box of baking soda that I keep on the floor in the laundry room/pantry.

I'm taking a class at the local theology school to finish up my masters, little by little. While I'm excited to be back in an academic environment, the words of their director are ringing true "I do not think this will be an academic environment of the caliber you are used to." The further away from it I go, the more I appreciate that incredible year of study at CUA. The academics, my peers, my professors, the campus - it was an experience beyond expression. Even though I'll probably be paying for it for the next twenty years, I can honestly say it was worth it: that one year was worth it. I'll always miss that place because that one year was worth more to me than my first eighteen, in many ways.

Everything is a necklace to her right now - even clean cloth diapers. And it's a cow pattern! So cow cloth diaper necklace.

Chatting with some moms on the playground today, we discussed what we consider curse words in our homes - for our children and ourselves. It made me think of a video (see below). I like to have pretty strict standards in regards to language, dress, and decorum, simply because it is easier for children to ease up on habits as opposed to reign them in. That is, it is easy to first learn self-discipline and then mercy, as opposed to go from license to self-mastery. If I err on the side of being too strict, it is only too easy to loosen whatever scruples one has learned - don't we see that happening, even without meaning to be so loosed?

This is seriously one of my favorite videos. 
My love for Mormons endures. 

Seven point five
Today is the Feast Day of St. John Chrysostom. I love him and his essay on marriage. St. John Chrysostom, pray for us!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Seven Supah-Quick Takes Supah Late


We went to California, which was sadly a whirlwind. It's such a beautiful state and I wish we could have spent more time there! The Napa area was just as beautiful (and expensive) as everyone says, but by far my greatest regret was not getting to visit the restaurant in downtown Napa aptly named: ZUZU. Ah well. Next time! 


As fun as our adventuring has been, I am oh-so-ready to settle into being home for a good long while. Home at last! No big trips coming, no tests, just routines routines routines! I could kiss routine and commitment right now, even though I may want to dropkick them come January. 


So I dove-in headfirst to the start of the school year. A gal pal and I are going to start hosting Endow meetings, probably out of my home (because lets face it, the best motivator to clean is other people coming over). I am a 5th grade catechist. I started taking some masters courses in theology. I work in the nursery still. Ten billion people (okay, maybe 5 or 6) had babies, so I'm bringing lots o' mamas lots o' food. Play dates at the pool are Friday mornings at 10. See - ROUTINE! I'm in love. 


To go along with my homebody-routine-loving self, I have been reading Pope Pius XII's Dear Newlyweds . I bought it a loong time ago and am only now reading it (am I still a newlywed? who cares!) and have his words to be wonderful, inspiring, and peaceful. I read a few sections at the beginning of Zuzu's morning nap, to set the tone for my day. It is so encouraging to hear a Pope recognize the necessity of my job, to have him laud the duties of housekeeping and homemaking. Do pick up a copy, if you're in need.


There have been several habits Mr. O and I have long long long wanted to cultivate but never really done the work to make them stick. The two biggest: daily Mass and the rosary. God's grace finally broke through our stubborness and we have begun to incorporate both of these into our daily routine and let me tell you...WOW. Change! Change in my soul, greater joy in my marriage, peace in my mothering, greater wells of patience and love.  I am so grateful we have embraced these gifts - I hope this will give us the encouragement we need to stick to them!


My baby turns one NEXT MONTH. Can you believe it? I can hardly stand it. We will be having a big party, with lots of cake and pictures and games. I am a mother to a child who is almost one! She is not walking yet, but is tentatively standing on her own sometimes. I am in no rush. :)


I know I haven't been doing much blogging lately, but honestly, the blogosphere has not been a great place lately. I wasn't interested in adding to the noise! But because now I am here is a video. Please enjoy (and stop naming kids stupid names):