7QT: a move, a family trip, and the state fair!

  1. We have moved! It happened pretty quickly, but to sum it up – I had a few different people refer me to a position in the Twin Cities (the one that actually got my attention was a woman I met at Given). After a few interviews and an offer, we made the move to St. Paul within three weeks! (And we are praying that’s the last time something like this happens, but the Lord is humorous in his ways…). img_6232
  2. We are absolutely loving life here. Granted, we’ve only really both been here for two weeks with vacations and tying up loose ends in Duluth, but we are here, and it’s splendid. The Cities have so much to offer and I’m falling in love with so many different neighborhoods. And while I was a bit skeptical of our apartment location before moving, I really could not have been more pleasantly surprised.
  3. My new job is uhhhh-mazing. I have made a complete change in my career (no longer your friendly HR rep, but always happy to give employment-related advice!), and it’s a change I’m quite thrilled with. I’m working at the Parish & Newman Center at the University of Minnesota as the Development Director. While I had never worked for the Church before, I’ve known many to do so and not have the most positive experience. However, this team, this ministry, this everything – it is blessed. And I’m also working alongside the Brotherhood of Hope (they ran our campus ministry at BU). I have so much to be grateful for. img_6285
  4. Kevin and I went on a Krouchick family vacation to Park City, Utah, and I’ll admit – I kinda was like “Utah? Umm, okay.” But it was great. It’s always a joy spending dedicated time with my family AND the babies J. We explored the city, hiked some beautiful trails, enjoyed the fancy hotel life, and played far too many games of fishbowl. I’m already aching for Thanksgiving to come my way so we can all be reunited.
  5. On Labor Day, Kevin made his first trip to the Minnesota State Fair! I know, it’s absurd that he hadn’t been up to this point, but I was kind of glad I got to accompany him the first time. The funny part is that I HAD been before. It was quite random, but my best friends and I took a YOMO – you only Minnesota once – trip back in 2012 (our YO_O is an ongoing tradition, we’re considering Newfoundland next – YONO) and enjoyed the Great Minnesota Get Together. While this time around, I couldn’t exactly eat all the foods, it was still great to just walk around and take it all in.fullsizerender
  6. Speaking of foods I can’t have, I’ve been working with a naturopathic doc for the past few months and have discovered some interesting sensitivities (the big ones were foods I had already suspected, but hadn’t totally eliminated). So my absolutely no-no foods are: eggs, almonds, cashews, garlic, beans, and chili powder (this one confuses me too). So that’s now added to my avoid list, which already includes grains (although I can now experiment with rice & buckwheat on occasion) and dairy. It’s so interesting looking at the evolution of my diet over the past two years. I’ve gone from eating anything and everything (while still eating healthy & balanced) to whole 30-ing to paleo to paleo-ish to this. While I have very strong convictions around nutrition, I’m learning to let go a bit. Everyone’s body is different – I am still figuring out what works for me, and it’s such a process.
  7. It is September. And while we’ve had some terribly humid days in the 80s (which is nothing compared for my Arizona friends), I’m getting super excited for fall. Isn’t everyone? I did, however, mistakenly indulged in a PSL from Starbucks (coconut milk, of course), and it was too early. It just didn’t feel right. I’m going to hold off on any more of pumpkin until we’ve had a few days in the 60s. Every morning, I keep trying on sweaters hoping that my weather app will reflect chillier days, but alas, each morning I put those sweaters back in the drawers for a later time.

That’s us right now. I hope your day, your week, your month, and even your year are swell.

February at its finest

Lately, despite a little bit of sickness (that’s what we get for diving back into grains – I knew the paleo lifestyle is what kept me healthy this past year! I’m back to it now after my week of frivolity!), we’ve been really living it up & enjoying our time together. We’re trying not to get a case of the February’s, and I think we’re doing a fine job.

[Early morning running along Lake Superior…trying to get back into a habit.]

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[Sunday breakfast at Va Bene #worthit #twosundaysinarow #ournewspot]IMG_1611

[Day trips with friends – and seeing a real life mine!]IMG_1605

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[Our short-lived relationship with grains – good, but not good enough.]IMG_1613

[Making new friends (or reuniting for Kevin) & enjoying good company.]IMG_1614

So take that winter! I hope you’re all staying warm & getting your cozy on.

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As I’ve mentioned, it’s been a bit cold. Not unbearable, but just really cold. I attempted to put air in our tires yesterday at 7am and it was -11 degrees…I got through one tire. Besides things like that being a challenge, though, and having to dress extra warm in & out of the house, it’s been beautiful. I’ve found myself not very motivated in a lot of areas – there is so much I had laid out on paper for 2016, but I can’t bring myself to really do right now. And maybe that’s just winter. We do what we have to do, and let the season be.

I love the reset that the new year brings, but I also think January (and February & March if you live north) have a resting quality to them. I think it’s okay that I’m not going out and doing all the things. Staying in and drinking a cup of tea is quite acceptable. Reading a book for leisure over starting that massive project – that’s fine. And it’s not as if I’m doing nothing – I have a full-time job. But I think working from home sometimes makes me things I need to be doing more than I am.

I’ve been feeling overwhelmed lately and a bit of paralysis regarding ideas I want to put into action. But I’ve decided to let winter be winter. Spring will come in all of its newness; it always does. Right now, I can focus on the work I have in front of me, the beauty of wintering in a real home, and the luxury of a bit more flexibility than we had last year.

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The above photo is on Lake Superior. Kevin and I took a [short] morning stroll in Canal Park on Sunday (-18 degrees…yikes!) followed by a cozy breakfast in West Duluth. Slow paced life can be so good. Our day off (MLK day), we went out for another breakfast with friends. There is such perfection to being in a warm place with good people while the wind & snow continue on outside.

I hope you’re enjoying the season in all its fullness 🙂

Christmas & New Years // Pennsylvania & Minnesota

The holidays were a real whirlwind for us, Gearnses. It was a bummer to have Kevin working most days when my work kind of slowed down, but the solemnities, weekends, and evenings were quite beautiful.

dinner & a movie on Christmas Eve
dinner & a movie on Christmas Eve

We kicked off the Christmas season with a lovely Vigil Mass at our parish. Following Mass, we had a couple friends over for dinner & It’s a Wonderful Life. My family has watched this film every Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember, so it’s a tradition I plan on keeping. We unfortunately didn’t finish the movie that night, though, as we had to get up for a 4am drive to the twin cities on Christmas day (eek!).

Kevin & Deacon Paul at the airport way to early Christmas Day

We made the drive that morning, met Deacon Paul at the seminary who would be looking after our car for the weekend, arrived at the airport, had a bit of an issue with our tickets (we owe many thanks to the generosity of others for that day!), but eventually made it to Philly early afternoon. When we got to my house (oh how I love our town), the festivities were already in full swing it seemed. We have quite a big family, and my parents always love to host. One of the big activities of the afternoon was, of course, family football across the street. Not to brag or anything, but my dad did name me MVP (I said it’s all those yoga poses stretches I’ve been doing…).

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Christmas evening continued as usual, with all the people in every corner of the house. One of the great joys of the weekend was simply being with my whole immediate family (which unfortunately doesn’t happen that often!) and getting to see the babies! Millie is almost 4 months now, and Evie is just about 2 months. Kevin and I stayed home from the annual Eagles game on Saturday night to spend time with the little ones, and I miss it so much! My nieces are absolutely the cutest.

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I look just a wee bit tired from the travels that day…but look at those babies in their matching dresses!

After a short weekend, we came back to Minnesota (it was a looong drive back to Duluth that Sunday night). Our nights have been spent watching Christmas movies together (Home Alone, Love Actually, the Holiday), and eating [paleo] Christmas cookies. We had a lovely evening with Kevin’s mom and uncle to celebrate & exchange gifts as well.

dinner at Duluth Grill New Years Eve
our grainy photo of dinner at Duluth Grill New Years Eve

New Years Eve (rather the Vigil for the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God) we went out to dinner with a few friends to Duluth Grill. I had heard so much hype about this place, and I don’t know if I’d say it lived up to it (there was a lot!), but it was still very good! We had a grand time in good company. And Kevin and I spent the next day at Mass and doing date-like things together (which for us means going to Barnes & Noble or Target and hanging out 🙂 #marriedlife).

It’s been a full couple of weeks, and we have our Epiphany party to look forward to this weekend! Yes, it’s a bit late as we celebrated the Epiphany this past Sunday, but it’s a rich feast that deserves good attention. After that, the Christmas season shall officially be over and it’s back to ordinary time for a bit. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Advent: the second half

Here we are quickly approaching the high feast of Christmas and I’m so excited. While our travel plans are not ideal (driving to the twin cities at 4am to catch a flight on Christmas Day to PA, flying back 2 days later), we are very much looking forward to being with my family for the holiday, even if for a brief time. The last couple weeks around here have been busy, but good busy.

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On Gaudete Sunday, we cut down our own Christmas tree with some friends. It was my first experience of actually cutting it down, though, I actually didn’t do it – Kevin did. It was a bit anti-climactic, but it was also cheaper than buying one pre-cut. So win-win.

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Afterwards, we went to our respective homes to setup the trees and ended up at Fr. Michael’s rectory for some dinner & Marvel entertainment. The Avengers is just that good.

We got some snow shortly after the tree cutting extravaganza. And I’m still not sure what to do with our driveway. So for now – we shovel. And we shovel. And we shovel some more.

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This past weekend was pretty awesome. Fr. Seth, another one of the Priests that con-celebrated our wedding, was in town (he is assigned at parishes way up north), so we went out for dinner Friday night. It was a truly wonderful time. Good conversation, lots of laughter, and delicious food. We went to Tycoon’s, which is on Lake Ave in downtown Duluth and it was a lovely restaurant: a nice interior, classy holiday decor, live music that wasn’t overpowering – an all around good time. After dinner, we met up with another friend all together at Olive Garden for some coffee & dessert. A rejuvenating night if ever there was one.

We also had a visitor on Saturday evening – none other than Deacon Paul, one of Kevin’s best friends currently down at the major seminary in St. Paul. He was up for a wedding and stayed with us that night. He is such a great presence to have around – a man of wisdom & peace. So Kevin was quite excited to have some time with him.

We also saw…STAR WARS. Oh my goodness. No words. I wasn’t really hyped up for this one, but I grew up loving the original trilogy, and am one of very few people who can appreciate the most recent trilogy ;). But for some reason, I just wasn’t excited to see The Force Awakens. We want to see it anyway, of course, and I was caught off-guard at how good it was. And I am loving the main character, Rey. She’s not an overpowering man-hating feminist, but she is a very strong leading woman and it was awesome. If you haven’t seen it – GO SEE IT.

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On Monday, I was able to go down to St. Paul with a friend here just for a little day out in the city. We had such a lovely time going ice skating, looking at beautiful homes on Summit Ave, eating lunch by St. Thomas, visiting the Cathedral, and obviously going to Trader Joe’s. I can’t not go to TJ when it’s nearby. Success!

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Finally, last night we attended Lessons & Carols at our parish. Very different from the version that the seminary in Boston would put on, but still a nice evening. Plus one big bonus: livestock. Yes, our parish had a donkey, a sheep, and two goats. It was great. So many happy things.

Now off to finish a bunch of things before the Christmas season begins!

Surprised & Delighted

This afternoon, I sort of last minute decided to host the Blessed is She Advent Gathering for some women in Duluth. I had mentioned it to a couple ladies a while back, but only got on the ball a couple days before the event. I decided to reach out to a few more people I knew, even if just acquaintances, and for the most part they all came! I was a bit nervous, since I’m the new girl in town, but it was a beautiful experience and here’s why.

Today was the first time since moving here of having an intentional gathering of women. While the transition from East Coast to Minnesota has treated us well, I was never quite optimistic about making good new friends, specifically with women. I love my brothers and sisters rooted in my college community, and I never felt a desire or need for anything more. And in a way, I always felt like if I were to open myself up to more people, that it would take away from the relationships I cherished so dearly. Those friends I had close to me in Boston as well as those who had moved away to all over the country. But with our arrival in Duluth, I knew I was going to have to at least make an effort.

And in terms of community, God has surprised me with goodness since day one. Contrary to what I had thought (or prejudiced), people have been so welcoming. We’ve had dinners, bonfires, social events, and church events. And today, having these women all respond with enthusiasm, having real, grace-filled conversations with them – it’s brought more consolation than I could have imagined.

I was even surprised to find out that I could relate more to many of the these women today than I could with some of my closest and most dear friends, particularly with our hardships and struggles. Not that I’ve all of the sudden forgotten my most beloved sisters elsewhere in the country (not in the least!), but I’m learning something important. That my heart has room for more. My capacity for love and friendship is so much greater than I thought.

We are made in the image and likeness of God who is love and loves infinitely. While we are not God, we are His created spirits and to love is one of our sole purposes. And the more we strive to be like Christ, naturally our ability to love should be all the greater. By putting limits on myself, I was putting limits on God. Ridiculous, I know. He has given me a great community with those who are far away (continuing to bless it), and He is now opening up a new one right before me. I don’t have to trade in something old for something new, but rather it can be both/and. This is God at work. And for everything, I feel an abundance of gratitude.

So with today’s retreat theme of “Delighting in the Promise,” I will continue to delight in the way God is walking with me in all things. His steadfast love is an unchanging gift that I would do well to remember at all times.

“Blessed are those who love you, O God, and love their friends in you […] They alone will never lose those who are dear to them, for they love them in one who is never lost, in God, our God who made heaven and  earth and fills them with his presence, because by filling them he made them.” – St. Augustine’s Confessions

 

Giving thanks.

I woke up this morning, looked outside, and it was snowing. Not in a ohnofindashovelweregonnabelate type snow. But the perfect snowfall that gives joy to my heart in seeing that light sprinkling over our yard + woods surrounding our home.

We had breakfast, went to Mass, had our friend take some pictures of us (for our Christmas cards!) in the woods by the Church while the snowfall was still in the pretty stage, and then brought some cookies over to a Priest in a nursing home downtown.

Kevin worked with this Priest a few years back when he was a youth minister up on the iron range (yes, that’s a place). They have a lovely friendship and I’ve had the privilege to spend some quality time with him since being first introduced a couple years ago. On this day of giving thanks, he truly has a gift of opening me and Kevin’s eyes to all that we have to be thankful for.

Fr. Doyle likes to say things like this:

“Think of how good God has been to you both.

“You have jobs that provide for you and are satisfying.”

“You have a house, a place to go home to and enter into your own.”

“Kevin, look at what going to Boston has given you. A wife!”

“Katie, what a gift that you’ve learned you’re able to conceive. So many couples cannot even achieve that.”

“Look at how much more at ease you are today than you were two months ago.”

And he’s right. The Lord has blessed us in abundant ways. Ways we don’t even realize. Too often I take the most obvious things for granted. Of course, after we left the nursing home there was a small inconvenience that threw me off and I let it get the best of me. The next couple hours were me bottling up some frustration. But my goodness, Katie, get over yourself!

I think the root of my funk was from being bit homesick today – wanting to see the comforting roads by my neighborhood in PA, wanting to rest in my parents’ house, wanting to carry on traditions with my siblings. How easily those little pangs can overrun all the good things right in front of me!

But God is still good. I am sitting in my warm home next to my husband as we sip on a hot beverage before going over to his uncle’s house for dinner. There is no reason to not be content. Yet the same cannot be said for most people in the world today. People struck with death, war, sickness, loneliness.

So today, let us offer up our minor sufferings, our small inconveniences, for those who truly need it. And I will try to cultivate a great spirit of gratitude in my own life.

 

Life in Duluth.

Kevin keeps commenting that I don’t take pictures anymore. And it’s true. We’ve been doing so much, but I have little to no photographic evidence! Partly because I’m trying to make good impressions on all the people here and I don’t want to be that person who is always snapping away. So what is it that we’ve been doing? Well, sometimes it feels like not much, but I think that’s mainly because I’m working from home all day and my only outside time can sometimes be running to throw our compost bits into the woods and running back in for fear of the bobcats. But besides my days at home, life has been full and has been good.

A typical week starts off with Sunday Mass at our parish. I’ve never felt more at home in a parish before and it’s awesome. My first parish outside of college felt more like an extension of my college campus ministry (which was great! but not exactly a parish feel). Our parish as a married couple in Boston…we felt very much on the outside of an exclusive club. Not good. But here, it’s a great community of families, couples, singles, children, etc. And I feel at home lingering after Mass chatting up anyone (for the most part). They even baked us grain-free brownies when we officially became parishioners! How thoughtful!

After Mass is typically a walk with Kevin, exploring different areas. If we’re in the mood to see beautiful homes and neighborhoods, we walk around East Duluth. Sometimes we’ll go to the Lake Walk on Canal Park. We’ve been blessed with great sun on Sundays, so it’s been nice time out of the house!

On Wednesday night, we attend talks with Father Michael. Fr. Michael and Kevin were in seminary together at UST, same year. He also con-celebrated our wedding in PA. He’s been a wonderful friend to us since moving here, and we’re super grateful he’s assigned to a parish actually in Duluth (for the time being), considering how far this Diocese extends. He’s been giving excellent talks each Wednesday night at his parish on things like the existence of God, Evolution, Hell, Purgatory, Heaven, etc. But it’s super impressive because for a young Priest such as himself, he’s wise, super intelligent, and very pastoral. Kevin and I have been loving this part of our week.

Each week, we usually host people for dinner at least once. What a joy it’s been to have a real home to open up and to have the time to cook for others! Typically, it’s Father Michael and Suzanne (another one of Kevin’s friends from years ago as well as a fellow parishioner). We’ve hosted many others as well and it’s been very fruitful to build a little community in this way.

A few nights a week are just Kevin and I, which is a treat. With Kevin’s current schedule and short commute, it allows for lots of time together in the evenings. Part of that time is “productive time” where we’re working on hobbies or shoring up new skills. The remaining time is just enjoying the others’ company. I absolutely love our pace of life at the moment.

This past weekend, we also hosted Friendsgiving for a bunch of people – bringing together all the people we’ve hung out with individually. It was a grand time with good food, great conversation, prayer, and…parks & rec. Yes, we watched an episode (or two) at the end of the night. Because why not?! It’s just that good.

So life is beautiful. And I’m incredibly grateful. I try to put it into words, but often fail: I love Boston and the community I have there and I miss it dearly, but I’m also very content with where we are. I’m very confident that this move to Duluth, at least right now, was the right choice. I’ve received great consolation and it’s bearing fruit in my spiritual life, in my marriage, and in my relationships.

Deo gratias.

Parks, Trails, & Lake Superior

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A year or some ago, I was made well aware (by Kevin) that Duluth had won some contest for “Best Outdoor Town in America.” It was so strange to hear since, ya know, being on the East coast, I had never heard of Duluth until meeting Kevin (sorry!). And now being here, I see that these people really do love their region and all the activities it allows for. There is an abundance of trails & parks, and my understanding is that these are all-year venues (including freezing snow time!).

Since we’ve been here, despite our crazy schedules and trying to accomplish what seems like a million things, we’ve also gotten to explore a bit. And I, at least, am very thankful for that because I still know so little about this area.  I have only actually driven myself on a couple occasions and I’ve been terrified out of my mind because of all the pre-winter construction. (I know…it’s Minnesota, it’s not like driving in Boston, but I still have to get acquainted!)

So where have we gone and is it really as beautiful as the Minnesotans claim?

Two Harbors. This town is about 40 minutes up the coast on the “North Shore” as they call it (makes me think of Beverly & Rockport in Massachusetts, but I’m sure I’ll adjust). Along Lake Superior is absolutely stunning – the coastline really is spectacular. It is filled with all different kinds of trees, giving it a woodsy feel, but also great rocks & beach and cliff-like areas. We stopped at a local joint and got some fresh, smoked salmon with cheese, which Kevin kept saying was a MUST DO. We sat along the coast as we ate and it really was a great time. This was also in September when it was in the 70’s…so, not freezing.

Chester Creek. This is one of those trails that’s in Duluth proper and just kind of hides down in the middle somewhere (if I’m getting my geography correct). It’s only a couple miles, but there are trails along both sides of the creek which are really cozy and beautiful, at least in the fall. At the end there seems to be some playgrounds for the kids.

Jay Cooke State Park. This park is about 20 minutes south of Duluth and by golly it’s beautiful. The rocks in the water are a very unique formation and make for an interesting landscape. The trails are quite nice too! We came a bit too late to see peak foliage, but there was still a great deal to be appreciated.

East Duluth. This isn’t exactly trails and such, but I am a sucker for beautiful homes & neighborhoods and here is where Duluth delivers. East Duluth is a bit more well-off I guess, and while there is still some classic Minnesota architecture (that leaves a lot to be desired – and I could be generalizing), there are some really stunning homes. The streets are clean and beautiful, with the full tree’s arching over both sides. These types of scenes bring me real joy.

The Lake Walk. Canal Park is probably the most well-known of Duluth’s sites (says the girl who really knows nothing…so I could be wrong). It is connected up the shore to the Rose Garden by the lake walk – a lovely place to stroll along the coast seeing a lot of nice city sites from a unique perspective.