7QT: Christmas Celebrations

The Christmas season is still going strong, and while we could have been more intentional this Advent, we are grateful for the blessings we’ve received. Some of our highlights have been:

1 // Lessons & Carols at St. Paul Seminary –  since our first Advent together in 2012 (woah!), we have attended a Lessons & Carols Concert during Advent. In Boston, we went to St. John’s Seminary – typically the second Sunday (or Saturday night) in Advent – and it was always done sooooo well. It has always been the way we really mark the Advent season. Last year we attended the concert at our parish in Duluth – a bit underwhelming compared to the Schola at the sem, but still a treat nonetheless! This year we ventured out to SPS (in terribly cold & snowy weather) and it was, as always, a joy for the Gearns family. The one difficult part was not really knowing anybody. We said hello to a couple of seminarians that we’re acquainted with, but it’s such a different experience when I lack the connections to the Catholic community that I have in other places. I’m sure it will come, it’s just a void that is very noticeable.

2 // I’ve briefly mentioned how much I love our apartment, and it really shined this Advent. It’s not that it’s super large or fancy, but it’s got a cozy feeling to it (so much more so than our previous residences). We’ve really come into our own with decor and such – so just adding minor touches of a Boxwood wreath with a purple piece of fabric, an Advent wreath on a cake stand with beeswax candles, the a small nativity setup on our prayer shelf, and finally our purple cloth over our tv (a Gearns tradition) – it really lifted our spirits.

3 // We traveled to PA to spend Christmas with my family for the long weekend, and it was a good time. Different, since the older siblings/spouses/nieces were absent, but still a really great time with the rest of them. Sometimes it’s nice being home without every nook & cranny of the house crowded with people. I love it when we all get to be together, for sure, but the slower pace is also welcome. And like most holidays, my family hosts all the extended family the day of. So we still got to share the day with most of the cousins/aunts/uncles and had a delightful time!

4 // We saw the Nutcracker in Philly Friday night, which we looooved. Kevin and I saw it in Boston together when we were dating and have been longing to see it again. I also just love getting dressed up and going downtown for an occasion like that. So yay!

5 // I got some good quality time walking around my favorite spots back home. Kevin and I went for neighborhood walks – admiring all the beautiful colonial architecture (something that is sorely lacking out here in the Midwest, but I get it). Then I got to meet up with my best friends from high school at our favorite breakfast spot. The four of us have not all been together in a very long time – partly because one of them lives in Abu Dhabi now (world traveler, she is). So we had an absolutely lovely time and probably overstayed our welcome at the small restaurant.

6 // Christmas morning, Kevin and I went over to the perpetual adoration chapel at my family’s parish (it’s such a gem) and prayed for a bit. I absolutely love being able to do things like this – it really helps us to shift our focus as we ought for this wonderful celebration. After leaving the chapel, we prayed morning prayer on a bench outside and an elderly woman came up to us go give us a special prayer card for the precious blood of Jesus. She said it looked like we were praying for a special intention (which we were, and have been for quite some time) and that this prayer is incredibly powerful. So she gave it to us and then let us be. It was so beautiful!

7 // Now I know Christmas is not all about gifts (obviously), but I do want to mention a couple of things that I was SO SO SO excited to receive. My fabulous husband, who knows me so well, bought me this amazing lunchbox. Given that I eat practically an AIP diet (autoimmune paleo), my lunches are typically one container with spinach/kale, some protein, and then a variety of vegetables. And I’m not complaining about that because we eat well and I usually enjoy it very much. But sometimes it’s nice to have a little variety and separate the foods for a different experience. This lunchbox, eco-friendly, safe from all toxins, & cute! has multiple spots for all your fixin’s – vegetables, nuts, fruit, meat, two sealed containers (one for a dressing of sorts and the other for more liquid type foods). I am newly rejuvenated to eat lunch in 2017. So thank you, Kevin. You have won this round of gift giving. Other honorable mentions – this dress, these boots, and the annual matching sportswear that my dad gets everyone in the family (I’m being serious, he really knows how to pick this stuff). As always, I’m too spoiled, and my family is overly generous. But I’m super grateful as most of the gifts are quality investments that really help us out. So praise God for all that we have been provided for – we really do live super well.

Merry Christmas to you & yours!

Coldplay!

For probably as long as I’ve known Kevin, I’ve known how important Coldplay is to him. Truly, it could be one of the first things I ever learned about him. And how, back in 2009 (I think?), he had tickets to see them in Omaha during his stint at IPF, but gave them away as he felt compelled to attend an ordination instead. Now, I don’t want to say that he regrets that decision…but he may, just a little. So I knew that the next time Coldplay toured in the US, we absolutely had to go.

As for me, I’ve always been a fan of Coldplay. It’s not something I’ve thought too much about, but they would always have been in my top five probably. And I’ve often thought that “Fix You” is the greatest song ever created. I could truly listen to it all day every day, and still cry each time I hear it.

Two years ago (almost to the day!), Kevin and I were driving home from my cousin’s wedding in Philly with my sister & brother-in-law. Coldplay came on the radio, and there began massive praise for all things Chris Martin & company. We agreed (post-wedding festivities, mind you) that we were GOING to Coldplay next chance we got.

Krouchick siblings (minus Keith, who is away serving our country!)
Krouchick siblings (minus Keith, who is away serving our country!)

Needless to say, when tour dates were announced for Head Full of Dreams, we were all in communication. So this past weekend, Kevin and I got to see Coldplay in Philadelphia with some family members. Despite being practically in the nosebleed sections (it was best available even though we purchased them instantly as they went on sale to the public!), it was a truly phenomenal show. I haven’t gone to many concerts in my life (Backstreet Boys, Imogen Heap, Ingrid Michaelson, Trampled by Turtles – that may be it?), but if I never saw anyone else perform again, I’d be okay with it. This was spectacular.

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The playlist could not have gotten any better – they played all my favorites (but they’re all greatest hits as Kevin says). This band was made to perform. They are amazing. And Chris Martin – what a guy. One of Kevin’s total man crushes (I’m completely okay with it).

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We’ve now decided that we’re going to wait to take an international trip until Coldplay is on tour again, and we’ll see them in London front row…it could happen, right? 🙂

 

P.S. If you ever need a Coldplay song for various occasions – I’ve compiled it below 😉

Nostalgia/Melancholy

Clocks // The Scientist // Everglow // The Hardest Part // Warning Sign // Army of One

Feel Good

Message // Army of One // Lovers in Japan

Dance Party

Charlie Brown // Hymn for the Weekend // Princess of China // Every Teardrop is a Waterfall // Sky Full of Stars // Adventure of a Lifetime

Let those tears fall

Fix You // In My Place // Everglow

Moodiness

Midnight // Trouble // Amsterdam // Magic // Ink // Fun

Serenading your love

Til Kingdom Come // Yellow // Green Eyes // Swallowed in the Sea

Anthem Moments

Viva La Vida // Lost // Paradise

Happy days

Life in Technicolor // Speed of Sound // Strawberry Swing // Up & Up

 

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!

The newest family member!

I don’t know how I forgot to post this! But on September 17th, 2015, my older sister gave birth to her first child, Mary Amelia – aka MILLIE. Her and her husband are so over-the-top happy and it’s beautiful to witness. And due to my circumstances at the time and the cheapest flights known to man (thank you, Frontier), I was able to go out and visit for a few days a couple weeks ago. Not only did I get to see them, meet the baby, and cook some meals, but I got to see their new house! They moved in this past July and it’s just a wonderful home already.

While I was in DC, I also snuck some time with my younger sister who, due to her fancy new job, was only in town one day that week. I met her downtown at Whole Foods and we got some lunch . Since she’s a working woman now, she insisted on treating, but also said “don’t go crazy.” I really miss this girl, so it was a gift to just have some hang-out time, even if it was just for an hour and a half (that’s quite some lunch break, Ker…). We got some Starbucks after – my treat – and walked her back to the office (getting caught in the rain!).

My flight had been in/out of Trenton, NJ, so the bookends of my trip were spent in PA with the rest of my family. In addition to seeing my younger brother, my older brother and his wife were there for the week as they’re in transition with the military at the moment. And bless my sister-in-law because with all the transitions they’re going through, their baby is due in just a couple weeks! A few of us stole some time in the park (my favorite park!) and gosh was it lovely!

Finally, a bit of sad news. Our family dog, Lily, went to the vet shortly after I had left and we were told she has bone cancer. I understand dogs are not humans. And I try to keep that perspective. But a dog really does become a part of your family in a sense and when they pass away its so hard! Lily is still going and my parents have no plans to put her down, but are instead keeping her comfortable with pain meds at the moment. We love you, Lily!