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!

 

All grown up.

Mid-May, I was in North Carolina to see my youngest sister graduate from Wake Forest University. Now…when you’re one of five children, it’s a crazy experience when the baby of the family has a big milestone. Everything she’s done has pretty much already been precedented by someone else in the family. But that makes it no less special; in fact, I think we all get super nostalgic seeing her go through all these life things. And it makes us realize that the littlest one of us is growing up! She’ll be moving to DC this fall to start work! #whattttt

In addition to the last one graduating college, there will be two new additions to the family this year! Both my sister and sister-in-law are expecting in October, and we are so thrilled and excited. But it’s also so crazy at the same time. And this year is a Krouchick Christmas year meaning there will be 12 of us under one roof – the mom & pop, three married couples, two young singles, and two infants! Obviously it’ll be awesome and I’ll want to bottle it up before we all go to our separate parts of the country (PA, DC, VA, CA, possibly MN).

Nostalgia is my middle name, so don’t mind if I cry three times a week with all the changes. But it is all good – we are all moving in good directions and I’m excited to see how these changes play out in our lives. #ilovemyfamily

A talk, a baby, a wedding, and New England weather.

Talk about an extremely full week. Full of so much goodness! I’ll first let it be known that this New England weather is unpredictable. So last Sunday at the start of the week, we had this:

Snow!

Yes, that was snow. The week went through days of heavy rain and we ended up with this:

Beautiful fall!

So…sometimes ya just gotta wait it out and the goodness will come! Anyway, on Tuesday morning, I woke up and was talking about babies with Kevin when I got a text from my good friend Ashlie letting me know she was going into labor. Ummm, OKAY. NBD. So naturally that’s all I could think about for the entire day. I had the privilege of alerting some friends and it was a funny experience reconnecting with some people via text. I group texted the men, and some of them I haven’t seen/spoken to since my wedding. We had some fun exchanges and great re-bonding occurred while dear Ashlie was bringing new life into the world.

Speaking of that new life…JOHN PAUL was born into the world at 2:06am on November 5th. I won’t say much as it’s not my birth story to tell, but Ashlie is a champ x239408134 and I’m so proud of her. And he is the sweetest, most adorable baby I’ve ever seen. I’m in love with this little guy and I’ve only had snippets of photos.

And still speaking of NU LIFE (get it?), Kevin and I gave a talk Wednesday night at the Catholic Center at Northeastern University (where I also work two nights a week) – their main event each week for the students is called NU Life. We talked essentially about our Vocation stories and the preparation for marriage that was had while being single (or for Kevin – being in seminary) and the beauty of that time. And how you’re not doomed if you don’t find your spouse in college. I’m not much of a public speaker, but the talk ended up going fairly well and we received some great feedback. When I went in to work the following evening, a bunch of the mission leaders there told me about the really fruitful conversations that followed our talk, praise God!

And finally, yesterday was a lovely day for a wedding! One of my former roommates, Emilia, got married to the wonderful Jared and it was a truly joyous celebration. The wedding was at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston and you just have to look up this church because it is STUNNING. It’s always been my favorite in Boston and I was so thrilled to be able to attend a wedding there. Also, Jared had a few connections with some brass instrumentalists in the Boston Pops…sooooo the music accompanying the Mass was entirely brass instruments and it was heavenly. Like, truly.  And Emilia looked like an angel! The two of them have an awe-inspiring joy about them and it was a gift to witness them in this great sacrament.

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The reception afterwards was at Post 390 – a super chic restaurant/bar downtown and it was a blast. We were seated at the table with the Franciscan priests and seminarians (and a couple close friends!) and we loved every second of it. When in doubt, put the Gearnses and Kev O with the religious…a great time will be had by all and there will be much rejoicing. There was tons of laughter, good conversation, and of course, as is with all the weddings, we get to see and catch up with old friends who we’re not around that often.

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Kevin has said it before and reiterated again today: the deep bond that exists between the BU Catholic community is very unique and visible. There were a number of people there I haven’t seen in a year, maybe longer (some I see all the time), and because Jared and Emilia are four-five years apart, there was a wide spread of CC generations present. It’s a good reminder of the authenticity of our experiences together and how it can unite people across many years, but it’s also just the fact of being a part of the universal Church. Because of this, our community isn’t exclusive. Any Catholic shares what we share. And it only becomes more beautiful when we expand with spouses, children, and new friends. I’m so grateful to be a part of the BUCC community, but what really keeps us connected and growing is Christ and his Church.

So this week was a wonderful time of witnessing our community grow and evolve with a new life and a new marriage! Praise! God! There’s so much to be thankful for.