Wednesday, June 30, 2010

You'll Laugh So Hard You'll Cry

I did!  Thanks to a fellow friend & blogger, Charlotte, for posting a link to Catalog Living.  Go there for a hearty laugh.  Enjoy!  As the website describes, "A look into the exciting lives of the people who live in your catalogs."

Getting It Right: Marriage, Intimacy, and Viagra for Women

Today Daddy pointed me to an article in the New York Times.  You can read the article here.  There are a few very good points in the article which give a solid argument for the silliness of marketing Viagra for women when the heart of the matter lies in the culture of our present day.  Camille Paglia points out our society has become so technocratic that we don't find the mystery of intimacy anymore.  Where we have emasculated men and beefed up women, we've become a society of gender neutral people who care more about productivity in the workplace than in the bedroom.

In the discreet white-collar realm, men and women are interchangeable, doing the same, mind-based work. Physicality is suppressed; voices are lowered and gestures curtailed in sanitized office space. Men must neuter themselves, while ambitious women postpone procreation. Androgyny is bewitching in art, but in real life it can lead to stagnation and boredom, which no pill can cure.

She further states that fashion, pop culture, and media in no way help in increasing libido only making lives which are more sterile and devoid of the possibility of lust .  Of course, she speaks very humanistically and quite secular.  She refers to wooing and intimacy but doesn't quite get there.
Interestingly, I ran across a blog post that was speaking along the same lines but in different context.  Anne Voskamp writes beautifully in her blog about the vulnerability of building a marriage bed.  After having six children with her husband which she loving refers to as the Farmer, she finds it is difficult to accept the word "beautiful" which her husband so readily gives away to her as a gift.  Here, too, a woman is found challenged in the bedroom when she forgets that she was made a woman by the gentle loving of a husband.  It is in surrendering that she was made whole.  Whether she believes it or not, she is beautiful, and must surrender to the seasons of a marriage in order to continue to keep the marriage bed sacred.
Read Camille's article first and you'll be saying, "Right On!"  Then go and read, Anne's blog.  Post after post will keep you wanting more desiring to rekindle the marriage you have or give you hopes of one day having.  In short, not only is it the wooing of one to the other, the mystery, but also our faith which gives us the unitive and the procreative along with the duty and responsibility in the sacredness.  What a gift Mother Church has given us in sacramental marriage.  The openness to life and the openness to vulnerability as we stand exposed not only in our skin but in our innermost being is exactly as our creator wants us to be....child-like.  I am reminded of this when I see Nick's smooth, silky body as he lies there in his bassinett before I turn out the light to crawl into my bed.  This is where God wants me to bed...small, vulnerable, hidden, and in a very concrete way towards my husband.  No amount of Viagra will help the inhabitants of this world desire each other all the more.  It is true intimacy, vulnerability, and   the ability to woo each other over and over again which does the trick.  This only comes by way of faith which transcends all our efforts to the divine.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Who is Gloria?

I have, on more than one occasion, been called by some name other than my own.  Interestingly, I'm always mistakenly addressed as Gloria.  Why is that?  I can't figure it out.  I have never corrected anyone who has mistakenly called me Gloria.  I always feel awkward by being called Gloria in the first place and even more awkward correcting anyone.  A lot of thoughts usually run through my mind when this happens especially this one, "I must be that insignificant that this person can't remember who I was introduced as."  Sigh!  It's great for my humility quotient, but terrible for my self-esteem.
My question doesn't really lie there, however.  I want to know why I'm mistakenly called, Gloria, and not Julie, Jennifer or even Hispanic names like Maria, Conchita, or Lourdes?  Did the person hear a "g" sound when we were being introduced and that's all they can remember?  So why not, Gertrude, Glenda, or Gabby?  Puzzling, really.
I was consoled today, however, as I stood chatting with the dry cleaner while I picked up Daddy's shirts.  He asked about Daddy's uncle who suffers from severe dementia and is in a local elder-care facility.  He mentioned two of Daddy's cousins but referred to them as "Beth" and "Peter."  I was dumbfounded and really didn't know what to say after that comment.  They are not "Beth" and "Peter."  And yet, I simply stated, "Yes, they are very industrious and were able to sell Uncle X's house rather quickly and make a decision on his living arrangement."  Shocking, I know!  From that moment our conversation went from friendly to awkward.  I think he realized he had mistaken their names, and I didn't correct him.  He may be thinking I'm so lame for playing along with his blunder!  But, hah, I'm not the only one who gets mistaken for someone else or at least someone can't remember their names either!
Oh, well.  It helps to write this out and see in black and white how really silly all this is.  For the record, my name is Grace.  It's been Grace since my birth back in 1973.  At that time, no little girls were named Grace only grandmas and aunties.  Now there are so many little girls named Grace I look to see who is calling my name at soccer games and practices, at the grocery store or Costco, and even at Mass.  It's great my name is making a comeback.  And here's another one for the record, Gloria is a fine name.  It's just not mine.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In My Kitchen

Today I decided to cook up taco meat for the week.  Going against the current, I use my cast iron dutch oven to do the job.  These are typically used for making awesome things like "boeuf bourgignon" but not in my household!  I like it because cast iron and the lid keep the heat in cooking the meat faster.  Those are pluses for moi!

Here's my recipe.  The trick is the cumin...the more, the better, if you can stand it!

3 lbs. ground beef (I use grass-fed)

to this add 2 c. water for frying it up.  This breaks up the clots of meat and makes it real nice and small.  In Spanish we call this "carne picada."  Yum!

Drain off the grease and water after it's all cooked up.  You can fry it up a little more to get a nicer toasty-ness to it.

Next, add the following spices:

2 T. chili powder (I get bulk spices located in the Mexican section...they're cheaper!)
1 T. cumin
1 t. salt or more to your taste
1 T. minced garlic.

You can add 2 c. more water and simmer, at this point, to make it a little saucy.  Enjoy!

During the week, I'll pull this out to make tacos, enchiladas, or taco salads.  The kids even like the meat with cheese and tortilla chips to make their version of nachos.  It also freezes well.  Bon appetit or rather buen provecho!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Getting a Face-Lift

I decided to try Blogger's new design option.  It's quite exciting with a lot of background options to choose from.  I was happy to leave my Shabby Blogs template behind.  I like to stick to one thing (Blogger) and not mix up too much HTML coding all together.

As far as what's up around here, here's a listing....

  • lots of running around with sports, theater, and piano is starting up again
  • Nick turned 4 months today...where has the time gone
  • I'm feeling better after killer migraines two days in a fun!
  • A travel surprise may be in the works...more on this later
Nighty night, and I leave you all with this beautiful pic.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Father's Day 2010

Cool stuff for Father's Day...

Skype-ing with my Dad, Mom & Sis
Dinner with Grandpa Ben, Uncle Mark, my brother, and the rest of the crew

Praying a Rosary for a friend...please pray for Don S. who unfortunately had a stroke after arriving home from the MSRA Car Show at the state fairgrounds this weekend

Hot Chess games on the really was hot & muggy outside!

A Marriage affirming Father's Day gift that says...

And, of course, here are two of the coolest dads I know!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Summer Produce Fun

I was just browsing the web to find a good applesauce recipe I can make here at home. Suddently, Pick Your Own popped up. This is where I went for the instructions on canning my own peaches last summer. Yummy! This site is the best. You can scan anywhere in the country to find farms where you can go and pick your own produce. Then the site helps you can it all using a lot of easy to read instructions and pictures. Pictures are a plus for me!!
You can click on the link below. I set it for Minnesota farms, but you can go to their home page and find farms all over the country. Enjoy the summer's fruits and veggies in abundance and later in the year, too.

Where to find pick your own farms and orchards in Minnesota for fruit, vegetables, pumpkins and Christmas trees.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Virtual Cookies

I attended an on-line open house with Memoria Press today.  The host, Martin Cothran, offered those of us present in the "chat" room virtual cookies and coffee to start out the open house.  It was rather funny, but on a serious note, I learned a little bit more about their online academy.  This summer they are offering 4 camps, 2 literature courses, training seminars for teachers and parents for Latin & logic, and 2 for-credit middle school courses.  You can check out their summer schedule here.  For fall they will be offering courses like Latin, logic, rhetoric, literature, math, French,  Greek, and so many more.  You can check these offerings out here.
We have really enjoyed using Memoria Press's books.  This year I opted to buy Big Sis the videos to supplement Latina Christiana II.  She has enjoyed seeing a teacher in the videos presenting her lessons.  What am I chopped liver?  Anyway, if it works...!  After a year of classes outside of the home at Yeah Academy plus the year of Latin videos, I think she's ready for online courses.  We'll probably try it out this summer with one of the Latin Camps for starters.  
BTW...Daddy asked me to change my font for posts.  He says it's easier on the eyes.  What do you think?  I'd love to know.  Also, grab a cookie on your way out.:)


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Burgers, Babies, and goodBye

We didn't do a "B" week around here, but we did have a Going Away Party for very dear friends of ours.  After a year of having our girls in a Little Flowers group, we are sad to see them leave the Twin Cities again.  However, they are embarking on a new journey out west.  You can surely follow their adventures as they relocate at Michelle's blog.
So we had burgers, brats, and dogs on the grill, and four other families provided lots of other sides and fixings.  The spread was incredible and enough to feed all 21 children (one sweet little baby was nursed...not by me! and my little Nick was asleep the whole time...miracle of miracles!) and their parents.  It was a wild house to say the least, but we all had a great time.  The rain even held off giving the children ample time to play outside in the front and backyards before watching a Little House on the Prairie appropriate!
Monica and I were able to put together a fun game which was meant for the children.  However, they were too busy playing so the adults ended up having fun with North Dakota trivia.  I used a bingo card generator online and came up with customized cards.  The facts came from a North Dakota Facts and Trivia website.  Click here to find the cards and here to find the facts sheet.  This is my first time using Scribd so I hope it works.  Let me know!
P.S.  I was so sad that I didn't click one picture of our good time.:(  I'm notorious for not taking pictures at our events.  So instead I'll leave you all with this image of North Dakota's state flower, the wild prairie rose.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Spring Recitals 2010

Here are the girls' spring recital videos.  Thankfully, we charged the battery on the camera.  We are very proud of the girls.  It was a fun year for all of us at Hovland.

Molly's Recital Piece

Maria's Recital Piece

Monica's Recital Piece

Again, we are so proud of these girls!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Thanks for all the prayers, emails, and calls regarding my being "stuck."  We've been thinking around here about a lot of things namely space.  Whenever I think about anything I usually get a headache so I'm more of a doer.  However, some things really require quite a bit of thought.  I know that sounds awful because how could a mother of 7 not take time to think about all aspects of her day.  Well, I actually do, but my philosophy is that most things only take a quick moment to think about them or you never act.  So, I think quickly and act quicker.  Not a very good explanation, I know, but it's helped to really move things along around here with not a lot of lag time.

Space, however, has been a bit of a stumbling block for me.  We have space issues.  Most of you know I've been purging like a fiend around here ever since Lent.  I took that as a good excuse to free us from the bondage of clutter.  The outcome was good.  I unearthed a few missing children, toys, manipulatives, clothes, and sanity.  Plus, I was able to outfit the underprivileged of the Twin Cities with a fair amount of donated items.

Even with all of that, we still have space issues.  I was just on the phone with a friend this afternoon and just talking with her about some of the realities helped me to realize these are real issues.  I have moments when I doubt we have them.  I doubt mostly because I hear things like, "My Uncle or Grandpa So & So had 14 kids in 1,000 square feet and they were just fine!"  However, I never hear about the mother of those children and at what age she left this world.  So my brain has been challenged to think about two things:  to remodel our existing home or to relocate.

I'll begin with the latter.

To relocate....A beautiful home came up on on the market very close to where we live.  It has more square footage, newer construction, is in a desirable neighborhood in a good school district (in case we decide to send the kids to a high school), and the floor plan is configured so that we could use it for our needs namely home education.  However, the home is, of course, more money, and the neighborhood is newer so it's a bit isolated from its neighboring neighborhoods.  It seems almost insular.  I hardly ever see children or even the parents when I drive through it.  My thoughts are that they must work, and the home owners must be older with older children.  Would a home educating family really fit in a neighborhood like this?  The big questions here were:  Can we sell our home at the bottom of the market and get what we paid for it?  How long would it take to sell?  Would the sellers of the home take a contingency offer?

You can already see why MY brain would already be challenged.  Of course, I'm not alone in this.  Daddy was also thinking hard about all of these things.  But the question did arise about selling our home and temporarily relocating our family so we would have cash in hand to make a purchase!  AHHH!  I can't even imagine moving all of us into temporary housing with homeschooling only 3 months away.  Of course, there's flexibility.  But that much flexibility?  For me?  You've got to be kidding.  I thrive on order, and chaos makes me stress to the point of painful headaches.

To Remodel....Also, in the mix is the thought of remodeling our existing home.  Why?  It's getting tight.  As I mentioned above, I've been purging like crazy, but there is still more to do.  There are also things we can't get rid of namely the children, their books, our clothes for all the seasons of the Midwest!,  or all the other necessities.  The reality is we are just more people for our home, and whose to say we won't have another child or even four more children.  Questions here went something like this:  Who would do the work?  What would it cost?  Could we get the money from our investment back out if we sell the home or would we be stuck later on having to take a loss on our home?  Is it wise to stay in an aging neighborhood?  Will it go up in value, or should we get out while we can?

I was stuck having to think about things like the value of mature trees, living close to water (there are ponds all around us so it is rather idyllic), sizing up the neighbors in terms of the value of their children as friends to our children, the value of biking on flat streets versus hilly ones, the value of seeing baby goslings and ducklings in spring!  The questions seemed to be endless, but you can tell that I really came to love our neighborhood and appreciate it for what it is.  It always helps to write through decision making.  It's like making a gratitudes list.

The questioning process isn't over.  However, we did move a step further in making a decision.  I almost secretly hope the other house will sell before we have all of our research done.  They've already dropped the price another 10K so I don't think it will be long now.

Bottom line, we do have roots in this neighborhood, and there are some great qualities about the location and house itself.  Here is a short list:

  1. We live in a "green" neighborhood...the home is located "in the ring" which means less driving to both downtowns and to and from Daddy's work.  The trees are also mature so our home is cooler in summer.  There is plenty of shade so we are in no way living in a solar development.  We live within walking distance of three parks so we bike and walk the outdoors a lot.
  2.  The home is located close to our parish which we love.  It's orthodox, and there are a lot of great families with children the ages of our children.  An eleven year commitment of investing in our relationships at the parish can not be undervalued.  
  3. The home is located close to our homeschool coop.  25 minutes of driving, and we're there!
  4. We're less than 5 minutes from Grandma and Grandpa so Grandpa usually walks over to see what we're doing.  Later on the kids will probably be able to bike over to their house.
  5. Our neighborhood is quiet...not a lot of children and mostly retirees which means more "grandparents" who like to watch out for our littler ones.
  6. The lot has enough room for expansion...not much, but there is some.  We even had an offer yesterday from a friend who is an architect to draw up plans for no charge! 
OK, so now you all want to move into our neighborhood since I've given you the low-down on how great it is!  There is still more to think about, research, and most of all pray about.  God has been speaking through all sorts of means.  The pocketbook need not always be the only voice!  So I would like to ask you all for your continued prayers.  They sure have helped.  Meanwhile, I've been upping my meditation time, my spiritual reading, and I recently got back to making my Holy Hour.  

Oh, and in case, you're wondering about getting into our neighborhood, there are a few neighboring homes for sale so I'll see you on the MLS!

Searching for an image on the web for this post, I ran across this.  I couldn't resist!  It makes for a good laugh!  Enjoy.

Friday, June 4, 2010


I'm at that point.  The point where I can't move, I'm afraid to, and I have to.  It's hard being a parent for this reason.  It would be easier to just sit still, not do the research, not make a decision, stay in my comfort zone.  However, so many little people and one other big person depend on my ability to get off my duff and get "unstuck."  I do thank God for my faith which compels me to move forward, to put my trust in Him, and not be afraid.   Funny...this link appeared in my inbox from Daddy!  What am I talking about?  I can't really say much now, but you'll be hearing about it sooner or later.  Like any major decision, it's going to take a lot of prayer, time, and patience with myself and those around me.  All I ask is that you keep us all in prayer.  Thanks!
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