Thursday, October 31, 2013

{Pretty - Happy - Funny - Real}

Linking up for only the second time, thus proving my incredible ability to be consistent...

round button chicken
Joining Like Mother, Like Daughter in Capturing the context of contentment in everyday life ~  

We are back from Alabama and Orlando, in time for the weather to be cooling down a bit (65! But with 99% humidity...sigh). Coming back from vacation is hard for everyone, but I have to admit I think it is particularly hard on me because hey, who do you think is doing the laundry, putting away suitcases, integrating souvenirs into existing piles of junk, and trying to scramble together dinner mid-week having done no shopping?

Whoops. Whinning. I'll stop!


While in Alabama, we stopped at one of our favorite spots - NorthRiver neighborhood, on Lake Tuscaloosa. We drove around, visited the Yellowhammer Inn, the Yacht Club, Whispering Cliffs. We took Zuzu down to the edge of the Lake and took these pictures. She is decked out in her Alabama finery and I quite like the results. 


Happiness is a Bama tailgate! 
We were very nicely hosted by Randall Reilly, our friend Ryan's company, and got to enjoy their superb tailgate. I forgot how nice Southern tailgates are...they are catered, comfy chairs, space heaters if it's cold, big flat screen TVs, and the whole area has carpet or astro turf so little ones can crawl around! Let me tell you, THAT is the way to watch a football game. If we had actually gone to the game, we would have been standing the entire time (lovely tradition, thanks to whoever started that one) and Zuzu wouldn't be able to get down and crawl around. 
Plus...the language can get a bit heated. We do love our football. 
Roll Tide! 


As we were strolling down 13th Street, we spotted a wee fenced enclosure off the front of this house...and in it was a bunny! I gave the camera to Mr. O to get pics and he was so proud they weren't blurry (a struggle for him in picture taking). But the placement of those concrete planters is...odd? And who keeps a bunny in an odd fenced enclosure at the front of their house? 


I don't know about you, but the above is what most of our attempts at family pictures look like. I am always happy if out of 50 or so frantic clickings of my poor point-and-shoot camera, I get one or two good ones. Most of them are variations on this theme: Dad-wth-eyes-closed-angry-toddler. 

In other news, our youth minster resigned so...looks like Mr. Oram and I are back to working that job as well. Nothing quite like taking on a new/old task again. We are praying for lots of help in the form of volunteers and a huge outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that we may do good work for these middle and high schoolers.
Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us!
St. John Bosco, pray for us!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What I Would Have Said to the Pediatrician

I had a frustrating pediatrician's appointment yesterday. I would have loved to get in her face with facts, but I just don't have the personality for it; it seems so rude and not befitting a professional situation. 
But if general decorum did not prevent me, here are some things I would have said to her:

Nighttime breastfeeding does not cause tooth decay. Bottles work different from breasts; breasts do not give milk unless the baby is actively sucking. If the baby is suckling, then he is also swallowing because the milk is already past the teeth. Please do not tell me to wean my child from night nursing because it will cause tooth decay - that's simply not true. 

Although weaning is a very personal process, it's weird to encourage weaning based on the following reasons: she'll soon "ask for it" or will "lift up your shirt." If you are concerned these things will bother me, the appropriate way to approach this is to ask me how nursing is going and if I have any concerns, then to highlight some coming changes that may affect our nursing relationship, including increasing verbal skills and gross motor movements. 
Also - Is it a bad thing for a child to ask for food, including breastmilk? Should I be afraid that there will be a learning curve in my child learning manners, like not throwing food or not lifting up my shirt? 

Breastmilk never ceases to be nutritious. Yes, it's content changes and it gradually constitutes less and less of a child's caloric intake - but it never ceases to be breastmilk and starts to be water, or something else devoid of nutrients. So when you tell me it does, I lose trust in you and your medical knowledge.

Nursing to sleep is normal for breastfed babies. Please tell me why it's necessary for my baby to fall asleep without nursing. Not your opinion, but why - medically. Aha, there's no reason? That's what I thought. You are entitled to have opinions about parenting, as am I - but you must provide reasons for my consideration and not just proclaim your opinions as settled facts. Then I get to consider your reasons and make a decision. You are not an absolute monarch.

Just because the majority of schools and daycares required a certain vaccine does not answer my concerns about a vaccine. When I ask for a medical reason for a vaccine, do not tell me some children have died and the county requires it for school. Some kids die from vaccine reactions (link to US Dept of Health and Human Services required reporting on vaccine injuries and vaccine injury compensation). The county also requires sex education! Those are not medical reasons to avoid vaccines or submit my child to county-mandated sex education. 

It was a pretty upsetting visit. Many of the statements made, especially in regards to breastfeeding, were made out of ignorance - and this is from a practice known to be nursing friendly! Ah well. Maybe I'll write a letter about this when I ask for Zuzu's medical records...since we certainly won't be going back.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Plum Cake and Small Victories

Inspired by Deidre's latest post on plum cake - and the huge box of Costco plums I bought because I was certain I'd do something with them for Zuzu's birthday party (which I promptly did NOT) - I made a delicious plum cake yesterday. True to my nature, I ignored my lack of a spring form pan and instead used a bundt pan - and doubled the batter recipe, since the amount it made seemed much too small. Result?

Delicious. So delicious that I couldn't even nab pics before it was half gone!

I am also now in the process of making plum jam. Results pending!

Zuzu's newest words are 'baby' and 'uh-oh.' She is now quite fond of kissing all the pictures of babies she sees...which mostly means kissing pictures of herself. My little narcissist...

In other news, fellow blogger Kelle Hampton is also a Neopolitan and yet, I have never been able to figure out where her famed Isle of Capri is. BUT AT LAST! I have. I won't give up her secret unless you are also local and need a beach haunt, but I am very proud of my detective work and can't wait to go check it out for myself.
Side note: why do I live so close to the beach and yet go so rarely? This is a travesty.

Zuzu is thwarted in dishwasher 'helping'

baby behind bars

Y'know, just your typical beautiful storage room nursery...

In other news, I greatly enjoyed Colleen Dugan's recent post about dealing with those who inquire about your family size. What a Christ-centered perspective...very helpful to someone like me, who views her sole purpose on this earth as putting rude people in their place.

Later this week we head to Alabama, first time since the tornado. I've been having visions of houndstooth just for the occasion...and Mom got Zuzu the most darling dress off Etsy. Can you say, Roll Tide??

Sunday, October 13, 2013


Kelle Hampton writes a lot about having a tribe or a net - a group of women on who you can forever rely, call at a moment's notice, spill your deepest secrets. For a while after I got married, I rolled my eyes when I read her musings on this topic. This isn't high school anymore; I no longer feel the need to define my friendships by who will unconditionally support me - I've realized I need a good swift kick in the rear more often than I need claps on the back. 

Best rear-end-kicker:  Mr. Oram

Maybe my reaction was that way because, when I moved to Naples, I made friends but no one that I'd call crying. My real reinforcements - my tribe - is scattered to the four corners. "No bigs," I thought "I'm married now! That's what my husband is for!" 

My tribe is cooler than your tribe

Shae, Jen, Coll

wedding photo booth fun

with props

But then Jen came for an extended visit to help with the baby. I was so excited when she came...and that she stayed. 

And stayed. 

And stayed. 

I mean, let me put it this way: how was your first five months of motherhood? When did your husband have to go back to work? Did you have a good friend living with you, to help you with your baby whenever you needed? I did. It was unusual and awesome and humbling. I had never needed any friend so much before and never before had a friend so intimately been there to help. She helped me take my first postpartum shower, watched and offered support as Zuz & I figured out nursing, would take the baby in the morning so I could sleep, held her while I went to the bathroom, cooked, or just...sat. 

She even came to Italy.

Beyond being an incredible blessing to me, she is Susannah's godmother - and rarely has a day or at least a week gone by when Zuzu does not see her. Zuzu has had the joy of having her godmother be an intimate part of her life: her first babysitter, a constant guest at our table, another person to love her and form her daily. I know I cannot be all things to my daughter and having Jen here to teach, guide, and love Zuzu along with Tom and I means I can rest easy - I don't have to be everything - there are other good strong women to whom she can turn and find council, love, Truth. 

Auntie Jen is also teaching Zuzu how to navigate stairs. And how to walk. 

Here we are, one whole year later. I'm so proud of who we chose to be Zuzu's godmother (and godfather, but this post is not about you, Fr. Joe!). I am happy every day that Zuzu has such a wonderful example in her life of a woman who is in love with Christ and committed to His teachings. It is a blessing, and a relief, to know that if there comes a time when she does not want to listen to me, she has another voice to speak for Truth, another set of arms that will always welcome her, another woman to mother her. 

My journey in becoming a mom would not have been as joyful without her, and I know Zuzu would have missed out on so much love. I am grateful to have a friend who is so willing to pour herself out for my family, for my daughter, for me. This tribe, this small but loyal net, is helping me be a better woman - a difficult and thankless task. 

I don't tell you enough, Jenny Jen Jen, but I'm so grateful. I love you so much. Even if you leave tomorrow, I'll always be grateful for this incredible year. 


Saturday, October 12, 2013

One Whole Year

It's official: my child is a year old. No more do I have to give her age in months, I can just say "she's one."

One year old shots, courtesy of Auntie Jen Photography.

If I had a very typical pregnancy and healthy labor and birth, then I feel this first year has been nothing short of extraordinary. Though I read articles about first time moms being overwhelmed, lacking sleep and a chance to shower, suffering from disconnection from friends and family, maybe even struggling to bond with their babies, I have dealt with none of these ill-effects. We traveled with her, nearly effortlessly, to Italy. She is tolerant of large crowds and days of just the three of us, she is loving and playful and energetic. She doesn't sleep for long, unless I lay with her - so we nap together, or I get a lot of reading done, or I do activities in 10-30 minute bursts (which is shortening my attention span).

Tonight she crawled into Jen's lap and dragged a book with her. Her auntie was only too happy to comply.

She walked across the living room Friday night, astounding us all! The entire house, moments earlier buzzing with activity, hushed to watch this feat of brilliance. Then when she noticed us staring, she promptly sat down - and we all cheered.

Walking sort of looks like dancing at this age, at least in still-shots

Susannah is more beautiful than I could have ever imagined a baby could be. She charms everyone with her personality and beauty, but she is not all sweetness - mostly she is sassy. As she grows, she is becoming more like her mama (a bit of a bossypants). When you take toys away, she stares at you and then yells in your face "AAAAH." Then she ignores you for several minutes, to make a point.

The day is over and my heart is bursting. Yet, at the end of the average day, I still feel (at the least) treasured by my husband and lucky to be a mother to my sweet girl. Sometimes I wonder, is this kind of happiness...normal? Aren't I supposed to be waiting for the other shoe to drop? How long can one person be so incredibly happy?

My life is so ordinary: I am an overeducated stay-at-home mom. My husband provides for me and our baby girl.

But it doesn't feel that way at all - I feel the weight of what I am doing. I know that I am changing the world because: only people change the world, and children are only very little people, and I am in charge of forming a child. I feel I am doing more to affect the world here in my home than I ever could on the outside. That deep, heart-level satisfaction is what makes me so deliriously happy - not every day or every moment, but overall, in the aggregate.

Over the past year, that's what I've tried to express to people when they query me about why I'm not working, why I have decided not to work, and why I went to law school at all. It is a very right thing to do good work when it is in front of you, and to do it well, to the best of your ability. But when better work comes along, work for which you are more suited and naturally enjoy more, you abandon your previous good work for the better work - even if that means the time you spent training for the good work is counted as 'lost' by some.

post-cake eating

Happily inspecting blocks gifted to her by Tia Jennine

I have found my better work - my best. I am able to do it and this is the season of life for it. I can count none of my time as lost, since I did what I was called to do in each moment and to the best of my ability. But what I would count as loss would be missing out on Susannah's babyhood, to pay a debt I do not owe - to other people's expectations, to time I already dolled out, to a diploma I rightly earned with no strings attached.

After a whole year of motherhood, I am as happy as when I first saw two pink lines on that fateful stick. I am proud to mother my child and proud of who she is becoming. I am profoundly grateful to have, at last, found my life's calling - and to have found the one whom my heart loves, Mr. Oram, to share in this great work. It is grace, only grace, that has given me such blessings. I only hope to be a blessing to others in return, to return to love what love has made.

One whole year of incredible blessings - not a moment wasted.

The Orams, October 2013

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Dear Lord, I have writer's block.

I want to write. I feel like I have something to write. I even wrote about three posts. One I deleted entirely.

But I can't post them. It's making me irritiable. I literally snapped at my husband - no LITERALLY. Like with my teeth. He doesn't think fake-biting is funny. (he would've really suffered growing up in my house, where we were basically feral cats biting and swiping at each other all day...well, me and my brother anyway)

I wish I had children that were endless fodder for blog posts, but Zuzu doesn't talk so there is no "Zuzu Says." Zuzu also is an only child, and so is constantly supervised, so rarely gets into much trouble. Shall I regail you with the time she drank too much water too fast and coughed?? Or how about the time I found her happily munching on a (very old, seriously why wasn't it in the trash, it was negative, no sentimental value) pregnancy test?? I know you want to hear about how I say, ten thousand times a day, "Tsoo-saaah-naaah!!" (rhymes with hosanna, not banana - she really loves hearing her name and I say it weird, I don't know why)

Most the things she does that are funny to me involves this sniffing game we play when she's nursing. When I know she's almost done, but just lingering and I want to get on with the day, I star to sniff really loudly. "SNIFF SNIFF" and then she looks up and smiles (while remaining latched, I am baffled by her genius) and pauses to get "sniff sniff!" then again I really exaggeratedly go "SNIFF SNIFF" and she giggles (aaaalmost unlatching) and goes "sniff sniff snifffffff!" This goes on for a while until she's just laughing and then I can put her down and she doesn't pout for being popped off the boob too early.

Also I'm reading a book that I cannot confess the name of, because I don't like admitting I read anything other than quality literature. So that's also very exciting.

Tomorrow I head to Orlando for my mom's birthday. At least my extended family is funny and interesting and maybe they'll give me something to write about (they all can talk and are tragically unsupervised).