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!

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.

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

 

There and back again

This summer (similar to last) has been one of lots of transition. And in the three week period that we had to find a place to live in a new city AND move…I decided it would be prudent to plan an impromptu trip to Boston. Not gonna lie – it added a little bit of stress to the situation, but I also think it was worth it.

I surprised my dear friend, Sarah, and her new boy, Rafa, at Boston Children’s Hospital with the help of her awesome husband. It was the first time I’d been back to Boston since Kevin and I left last summer. It was completely surreal and totally normal. However, it was only the fact that I was visiting that made the MBTA bearable (one of the tipping points in our move away from the city ;)).

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Me and some of my favorite people! I’m still not sure what Sarah was really thinking when I walked into their hospital room, but I hope there was some excitement there! To everyone’s surprise, Rafa was taken home just a couple days later, so these parents certainly had their hands full. I simply took in their presence in the little moments I stole with them. Such love <3

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I spent an evening at the Green Briar (an old neighborhood fave) with some truly wonderful people. My heart was exploding with how much I miss these people. The only thing that would have made it better was if Kevin was with me, but sadly he had to work (but he is in Boston right now, so he’s getting his fill!). There was just an immense amount of organic laughter and joy; I never wanted it to end. Which is pretty much how all moments are with the Boston community, no matter where we’re congregating.

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I was also tremendously grateful to have some quality time with this treasured friend! Mike has been in Rome the past few years studying at the seminary out there (he’ll be ordained a Deacon in September!), but is home this summer. So I got to catch up with him AND his family, which is always a treat. I somewhat crashed his family BBQ, but if anyone asks, I’m a long lost cousin…or just an old friend from BU.

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Another gift! Ammmmmyyyyy! I got a beautiful morning (and Mass) with her and her husband plus the beautiful daughter that I hadn’t met yet! All of these moments would have been worth the trip individually, so can you imagine my excitement that just compounded as my visit continued?!

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I was fortunate enough to visit Mother Olga’s new convent and spend an afternoon with her – a nice oasis in the midst of my go-go-go. What a Saint, that woman. And what a gift her order is to the Boston Archdiocese.

There were many more moments not captured on camera, like visits with other lovely friends and my stay at my former apartment (back from my single days). And then just the beauty of Boston that seems so obvious and striking when you’ve been away for some time…

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Classic Brookline.
Beacon Hill!
Beacon Hill!
The original Trader Joe's in my book.
The original Trader Joe’s in my book.
Downtown.
Downtown.
"Star-Dunkin" - aka a little spot of compromise for me and Kevin just down the street from our first home.
“Star-Dunkin” – aka a little spot of compromise for me and Kevin just down the street from our first home.
The Watertown Public Library. THE best library we've ever belonged to. Ask anyone - it's legit.
The Watertown Public Library. THE best library we’ve ever belonged to. Ask anyone – it’s legit.

It was so rejuvenating to go back, and I am abundantly grateful for the opportunity to see people that I’ve missed terribly. It does, however, feel right that it was just a visit and nothing more. I love Boston, and I treasure the people, but we are happily at peace in Minnesota.

Though I’d also be cool if we took semi-annual vacations in the Northeast every spring & fall. And I’d be more than okay if all my friends moved to one big neighborhood. 🙂

my lobsters

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Kevin and I were in Ann Arbor, MI this past weekend for one of my best friend’s weddings. This was the first time I’ve seen any of my closest friends since moving to Minnesota. It was a BIG deal. I left after five days with a hoarse voice, probably due to the fact that I have not talked or laughed this much in a looooong time.

These friendships make me think of Phoebe’s lobster philosophy early on in Friends – obviously she’s talking about romantic love between Ross & Rachel, but I’d like to think it also applies to my friendships. They are my lobsters! As Ashlie put it on Saturday, we’re on the forever friendship train, destination: eternity, no getting off.

These are the friends that comfortably embrace the toilet humor that would embarrass anyone else, the ones who know your most intimate stories, the ones that love you through your ugly cry no matter the reason, the ones that you can unload all the feels onto and need no words in return, the ones who allow you to grow as you need but also keep you accountable. It’s truly such a gift. And one that our husbands and “sig-o’s” (as Elise has labeled them) have been absolute heroes for embracing, cherishing, and becoming a part of.

Life moves forward for us all, and we have to fight more and more for that quality face-to-face time, but I haven’t been disappointed thus far. I’m excited to be on this forever friendship train with these incredibly special people.

Also, Elise & Joey’s wedding was incredible: beautiful ceremony, tear-jerking speeches & first dance, and all around wonderful community time.

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Above was at the rehearsal dinner with the happy couple! And below our dear Elise – such a STUNNING bride!

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The wedding was a blast. How could it not be when I have such a handsome date? He’s quite accustomed to being with a bridesmaid ;).

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Since it was a Friday wedding, Saturday was mainly just spent with all our peeps. Boston, Ohio, Duluth, Houston, Phoenix, Virginia, etc. We come from so many places, but ours hearts are together!

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And finally, a Sunday send-off brunch with this wonderful group of friends. Not pictured: my waterfall tears from all the goodbyes.

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Deo gratias.

 

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!

Quebec City

A city on a cliff. Cobblestone streets. Cheese, chocolate, and coffee. Le francais.

Quebec City

J’adore Quebec.

This past August (I know – a wee bit late!) was our fourth trip to Canada in three years, but our first time staying in Quebec City. I love to travel and I love sharing my experiences with others. I often find, though, that I quickly forget everything we did – at least the details. I made sure to take copious notes this time around regarding where we stayed, where we ate, what we did, etc.

Kevin and I are most certainly budget travelers, so nothing we do is ever super fancy unless it was a gift or we have good reason to splurge. We do not dine out much, but rather hit up markets and get snacks to make up meals here and there.

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Our first night, we stayed in Auberges de Basilique– a little inn right across from the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre. For a decent price, you get a nice room with a private bathroom and free wifi (option to have breakfast included). It also has a stunning view of the shrine when you walk out front. We spent some time at the shrine, which is of course, simply magnificent. A majestic place that is built to draw us into prayer and devotion. My favorite parts are just gazing up at the ceiling and trying to decipher the french written all around.

Since the shrine is about 40 minutes away from downtown Quebec City, we decided to spend the remaining nights in La Cité-Limoilou, just a 25-30 minute walk from the old city. We used Airbnb to find the apartment we stayed in, and it could not have worked out better. Talk about a phenomenal alternative to an expensive hotel! The apartment we stayed in was perfect, we had a nice kitchen to cook most of our meals (avoiding the cost of dining out!), a great touchdown place not too far from the places we wanted to go, and free parking and wifi.

It did rain off and on while we were visiting, but luckily the sun poked out intermittently as well. One morning, we got up early and headed down to Le Chateau Frontenac (most photographed hotel in the world!). It was early on a Wednesday, so the place was all but deserted, which made for a peaceful stroll. I love the Fairmont brand. Their hotels, including the Chateau, really are the epitome of luxury to me. So that landmark is most certainly worth seeing!

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From the Chateau (which is located in upper town), we walked down to lower town. I’ll be honest when I say that Kevin and I are not great city travelers. While of course I’d have no problem filling my time in a place like Rome, Paris, London, etc, many cities prove difficult for us to find “things to do.” We don’t shop much (it’s expensive), we don’t love museums, we don’t go to shows, and we’re not much for drinking. So what is it that we do?

Well, it looks different depending on the place, but here we planted ourselves on the patio of the most quaint little coffee shop, La Maison Smith, in the Place de Royale for some people watching, architecture admiring, journaling, and in Kevin’s case, drawing. It was the perfect choice. I got a fancy latte and Kevin got a tasty croissant. And as we continued our exploring of both lower & upper town, we found plenty of adorable shops & restaurants. Nobody should be left wanting when wandering around these parts.

Since some of the day was rainy, we took some time to drive around the coast of Quebec City and taking in the views of the St. Lawrence river.

The next day, we continued exploring upper town since it really is quite big. This included more shops – some were incredibly unique. We stopped in the oldest grocery store in North America, Épicerie J.A. Moisan, still in operation – lots of novelty items as well as your typical grocery products.

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We spent the remainder of our afternoon walking around the Citadel (since Quebec City was/is the oldest fortified city in North America). Inside the fortress is a museum (for a fee), but we opted to just walk above on the fortress walls. We had a gorgeous day combined with the most grand perspective of the city. Walking around the citadel offered some truly amazing views. A perfect place for a picnic!

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After a late afternoon stop at the apartment for some nourishment & rest, we went out again and decided to take the ferry from Quebec to Levis. It leaves from the vieux-port (in lower town) and costs just 3,50 per person (one way)! We took it in the evening during a striking golden hour, and I’d say it was worth it just for the chance to see Quebec City from the water. Levis seems like it could have some interesting things to do, but not in the evening (everything was closed!). We instead took a long walk up MANY steps to see a high-point view of the river.

Our last full day we were very excited because we planned to go to Ile d’Orleans. This is a little island in between Quebec City and the mainland (Beaupre being one of the towns), with one bridge on/off – only open from 9am-9pm (free to visit)! It’s pretty much completely countryside, focused very much on agriculture and tourism. It was the most intriguing little place I’d ever seen! The island is quite long and took us about and hour and a half to drive around fully (with one brief stop at first). Beautiful fields, little farm homes with red doors & shutters, and incredible landscape at every stop. Our first drive around was in the rain, but the sun came out and thank goodness it did or we would have missed the entire point of our visit!

Nearly every house or farm you saw was open for business, selling all different kinds of goods! Blueberries, strawberries, chocolate, cheese, wine, iced cider, and more! We stopped in at multiple places and picked up a few things that we could not resist (I mean…one was the oldest fromagerie in America…and raw goat & sheep cheese? Can’t really get that around here!) Needless to say, I highly recommend this gem!

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Finally, since it was our last night, after stealing some last views of the old city, we went out for dinner downtown, in newer parts of the city (still beautiful, and less expensive). We chose to visit a place called Brynd Smoked Meat, and we were so happy with our choice. We split a delicious salad and some poutine (very generous portions!).

That pretty much sums it up. I’m always happy to answer any questions if you are planning a trip to Quebec! It’s a beautiful place with such wonderful culture. Au revoir!

 

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!

 

Roadtrippin’ to Duluth

It feels like both a day and an eternity since we moved from the East Coast to the Midwest. On the one hand, it really did just happen….like a week ago. On the other hand, it’s been insanity since we’ve arrived and I don’t really know what day it is anymore because it’s been so busy. I honestly don’t even know how to recap our move and the places we visited because I’m currently living in scatterbrainville.

However, we did it. The evening before we moved out was an absolute nightmare (we should have expected that). It was a complete scramble – we had sightings of skunks and racoons by our car as we were frantically trying to fit everything (getting skunked literally would have threw me into a pit of despair – praise God that did not happen!), we ended up working in the dark of our apartment since we’d given away all our lamps, we ended up having to last minute ship 9 boxes that just would.not.fit, words were exchanged (as were apologies)…but we made it through! The next morning, after leaving the apartment and not looking back, we stopped off at the convent of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth to see Mother Olga. And thank goodness. Instead of leaving in bitterness, we left in complete consolation. It was a grace-filled morning and we left Boston in a state of joy.

The peaceful morning with Mother Olga.

 

The next few days were spent in PA with my family. It was a lot of getting things done that we really hadn’t had time to do up until then, relaxing in my parents’ home, and preparing for our journey. I have so much to be grateful for when it comes to my parents. They have given so much and are a wealth of support.

The following weekend was at the Dills’ in State College, PA! This is where we really entered into our peaceful stage. It was a weekend of literally just hanging out with them as they live their life with a baby. Pure awesomeness. The search for pumpkin spice (fail), deep conversation, good food, laughter, Catholic scattegories, and prayer. It was a gift to be able to stop and see them en route to MN.

Me & Ashlie!

After PA we drove to Ann Arbor, MI – through northern Ohio…mehhh. But we arrived! And we got a full day with Elise & her fiance, Joey! I had visited Elise in Detroit once before and LOVED it so it was great to be able to share that with Kevin now. If you’ve never been to Detroit, go. It’s got such character and draws me into its beauty in unexpected ways. We spent the evening in Ann Arbor walking around U Mich and had a delightful dinner.

With Elise in her natural habitat.

The next couple days seemed to blow by, but we didn’t really spend an extended amount of time anywhere. We stayed at Holy Hill Shrine in Wisconsin, which was beautiful, but we didn’t get to explore much. It’d be nice to go back! Erin, WI was absolutely stunning and I now want to spend a dedicated trip exploring the rurals of this [foreign-to-me] state.

Erin, Wisconsin

Erin, Wisconsin

We had a night in St. Paul with a good friend, but then dipped out early to make it up to Duluth. It was a relief to arrive with our full car, but I made the mistake of thinking the stress of moving was behind us. In fact, it really hadn’t even started. Since our arrival, we have not stopped going. Car registration and issues. Unloading our Ubox. Picking up all our shipped boxes. Figuring out how to live out of a select number of boxes during this transition time. Job searching. Job interviews. And lots more.

Up to the old country :)

I’ll admit it’s been a lot of trials. But our God is good. And there have also been a lot of consolations. Through the difficulty, God has been affirming the decision we made to move here. I cannot express my gratitude for that because it would be very discouraging if it were just the trials. In fact, while I do feel a bit like a chicken running around with her head cut off, I’ve received immense peace about being here…and about staying here. While I’ve been trying to make plans like “in a year we will move to the twin cities,” I feel a calling to just be present in this place. No timelines. No additional steps. Just enjoy where I am. And with that, I can see a future here, which I did not anticipate. So for now, I will just see where God leads us.

Quebec, again.

This post is long overdue and will do not justice to the beauty that was our trip to Quebec, but I will try! We had been longing to go back to Quebec since our initial pilgrimage in 2013, but there just hasn’t been an ideal time until now. We lovelovelove Canada and try to go once a year (last year we went for our honeymoon). We were unsure if this trip was going to happen because finances are a bit tight, but we felt at peace with going and ta-daaaaa the Lord provided in many ways this month. God is good.

We started the drive up Friday evening and stopped for the night in Stowe, VT (stayed at the Stowe Inn with a groupon – so charming!). It broke up the long drive which was great, and we had a very relaxing trip up Saturday morning through the wonderful greenery and mountains of Northern New England. We crossed the border with no issues (not that there would be…it just always makes me nervous) and there we were!

A wee little stop in Vermont
A wee little stop in Vermont
Votive Chapel at the Oratory
Votive Chapel at the Oratory

The weekend was on and off with the weather – rainy then sunny then cool then rainy. But it didn’t really matter to us. We spent good quality time at St. Joseph’s Oratory – and gosh, the second we stepped foot back in there it was a wave of peace. Walking through the Votive Chapel is an experience. There are several different statues of St. Joseph above different stations of votive candles – each with a different title of his (Protector of our Church, Consoler of the Afflicted, Pure in Heart, Patron of Families, Patron of the Sick & Dying, Terror of Demons, Model of Workers). Needless to say, there were many prayers to be prayed and many offerings to be made.  We spent much time off and on in this Chapel.

Brother Andre's Chapel
Brother Andre’s Chapel
The Oratory
The Oratory

We also were able to spend some beautiful time in prayer in Brother Andre’s Chapel. Brother Andre (now Saint Andre) was the one who had the Oratory built in honor of Saint Joseph; a very humble man and being in his chapel (alone, nonetheless) was a moving experience. It’s probably where I received the most consolation of the weekend.

Outside the shrine
Outside the shrine
St. Anne de Beaupre
St. Anne de Beaupre

There’s so much that could be said about the Oratory, but…just go. Just go and see it for yourself. This trip we were fortunate enough to also visit the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre just outside Quebec City. I had been wanting to visit this shrine for quite some time, but even I had no clue what was in store for me. Driving along the St. Lawrence river (delightful!), we pulled into the town of Ste. Anne-de-Beapre and soon saw what had to be the Shrine. It’s amazing – just off the main road being all stunning and what not!

Inside St. Anne's
Inside St. Anne’s

This Church took my breath away. Everything about it. Whoever built this Church had a true devotion to St. Anne. There is just so much detail, so much complexity, and it all is weaved together so effortlessly in this magnificent structure. The whole thing was a treat, but I was especially fond of the little side chapel holding a RELIC OF ST. ANNE (bone of her arm!). I mean, no big deal. After Mass (which we understood very little of, but being Catholic and all it’s usually fine since it’s all the same), the Priest came over to give us more details about the Shrine. He talked of the miracles he’s been present for that have occurred in front of the relic, and my goodness…it’s unbelievable (but also believable!). We were so grateful for our conversation with him; it helped us to appreciate even more about the Shrine that would have gone unnoticed by little old me!

There was also the outside areas which were so simple yet so incredible. There is one particular chapel that is host to a number of relics of the holy land – it has 28 stairs which pilgrims are meant to climb on their knees – each step in reparation for Christ’s passion (and many of the steps have the relics built into them)…uhhhhh-mazing. To sum it up, the short time we had at St. Anne’s was powerful. We were able to pray at the foot of her statue (said to be the place of many miracles) with the petitions weighing most on our hearts.

 

Montreal
Montreal
Quebec City! Rainy, but still lovely.
Quebec City! Rainy, but still lovely.

The rest of the trip was more exploring Montreal and Quebec City. We had already seen most of Montreal that we enjoy – there are lovely parts (like Old Montreal, ohhhhh I love it), but there are also typical city parts…that I don’t particularly care for. Quebec City, though. Lurv it. Such charm. Such cuteness. The old city is huge and it is a feast for the eyes! Unfortunately, it was super rainy when we were there, but I still fell in love. And the Chateau Frontenac – ahhhhh the famous hotel that I read about in high school french class! It was a joy seeing it in person. Kevin and I decided that the next time we visit (which we will), we will reverse our itinerary and stay in Quebec City with a day trip to Montreal & the Oratory.

I hope to put together a mini Catholic Canadian travel guide soon (Kevin’s very encouraging of doing that) for all those dyyyyyying to visit. I hope I’ve sold everyone enough on this delightful province!