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!

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

2014: a year in review

2014 has been a big year for me. Yes, I got married. And that’s probably the biggest thing, but there’s more to it than that. I’ve remarked to people before about how graduating college was always the last thing on my horizon. Not that I didn’t have hopes for life afterwards, but I just had no concept about what was beyond May 2011. I spent my life looking forward to milestones that I could plan. In a sense, I had always known what to expect. And then upon leaving BU, the world was my oyster (as they say). And since then, it literally has been a whirlwind. Life has not slowed down or gotten less exciting, as I would have assumed it would. In fact, the past 3 1/2 years have been incredibly full with high’s and low’s, consolations and desolations, weddings and funerals, joy and sorrow. Now coming into 2014, I had an idea of how it would go since most of it revolved around planning our wedding. But it’s fun to look back on all the moments that have made up this year. So let’s get to it:

I truly can’t remember much that occurred in January except for a really cold winter. Oh…and I read the Hunger Games during a few snowy days early in the year. I still can’t decide if this was a big mistake or not. It probably was. I was bed ridden from these horrifying books for days and it consumed my mind for weeks. One day I’ll have enough clarity to explain what kind of experience I had.

Dear Lonnie was a part of my life. Any close friend of mine knows about Lonnie. The hotel I worked at had a hard time hiring an HR Director for a while, so instead of leaving the office to just me (which would have been just a blast…not), we brought in (for a second time) Lonnie: a retired HRD for the company who does task-force and was born & raised in Minnesota but lives in Sonoma, CA. This woman made so much of my work life bearable. The pair of us had SO many laughs, plenty of cries (you would too if you dealt with some of what went on), and a lot of deep life talks. I can say that I would not have made it through as much as I did in that place without her presence.

Who can forget YOLVO? You only Las Vegas Once…ish. My older sister planned my bachelorette pary in Vegas. This started out as a joke (because I’m not really a Vegas person), but it’s always been my life dream to see Celine Dion live. So off to Vegas we went. My older sister (sorry Kerry, 21’s only), my three best friends from home, and my four best friends from college. I was a bit nervous for this trip, but it turned out alright. Despite Celine being on holiday the one weekend I make it out (sad face x 100), we avoided the craziness of that city and just enjoyed some nice time together away from the negative degree parts of the country.

YOLVO 2014

Jenan became my sister when she married Keith on March 8th. Yes, just two months before me and Kevin. My parents deserve an award. They got married at the same church we did, and it was a truly remarkable time. Lots of joy and some really awesome photos. I love my family.

Keith & Jenan

Moments in Priscilla. Moving into married life, especially understanding it as a Vocation, means a lot of change. I savored the moments with my roommates. Since senior year in college, my roommates have been a big part of my life. It’s always been women I knew from the Catholic Center at BU, and my last house with them is still the home to many women I know. And one of our roommates entered religious life the day after my wedding, so those last few months were ones of big preparation!

In April, I got a new job. Despite the way I might feel about the way work is going, God truly had a hand in this change. Lonnie and I both left the hotel within the same week: her for California to enjoy life back at the winery and me for a new position trying out a different industry. The timing was impeccable as it meant I had off all of holy week, and I’d still be able to take all the wedding time off. And there are a number of other factors that made this a better opportunity now that I’d be getting married.

Last day at the hotel - bittersweet.

EASTER IN DETROIT. This was another grace of changing jobs. I had planned a trip to see my dear friend Elise for Easter on a whim one night, since I didn’t envision me and Kevin really making it out there once we got married (and Kevin would be in Duluth for this Easter), and was able to extend it a couple of days. This trip had a profound effect on me. We went to Christ the King parish in Ann Arbour, MI and all I can say is it was powerful. The whole trip was wrapped up in deep spiritual talks, visiting holy places, driving on 8 Mile (obviously), and just enjoying some of my last unmarried time with such a good friend. As we liked to say, we were bringing Easter Sunday to the city of perpetual holy Saturday.

Me & Elise on Easter Sunday!

There were a few last events before the wedding that Kevin and I shared with each other and with friends. The marathon in Providence was a festive day with my roommates plus some. Our day trip to Rockport was a lovely last hoorah as engaged people. Random bachelorette and bridal shower things with my friends. Packing up my room and finding keys from my last 3 apartments (oops).

Enjoying a nice Sunday in Rockport weeks before the wedding!

Providence. Just chillaxing.

And then I got married on May 30th. More about that here. And we honeymooned in the Canadian Rockies. More about that here. 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

I’ve enjoyed learning the ways of marriage and being a wife. In addition to the big things like growing in virtue and learning to sacrifice more, I’ve also learned how to cook spaghetti squash a number of ways, make my homemade coffee creamer, entertain large groups of friends with my single waffle maker, create a variety of meatless Friday meals that are also super tasty, crochet (sorta), plant an herb garden on our balcony (and endure the failures), and turn our small apartment into a cozy home.

I’ve attended three weddings from August to November (was a bridesmaid in one), and they were all wonderful. It was fun going to a wedding as a married person and being on the other side of it.

One of my closest friends, Ashlie & Josh, had a baby in November! Sarah and I were blessed to be able to throw her a shower at Josh’s parent’s home in Albany, NY. It was so great seeing her 8 months pregnant knowing that so soon they’d bring their first child into the world. And now he is here! John Paul! He is adorable. And I just know that they are doing a wonderful job, as hard as it can be not being very near family or close friends.

We enjoyed a Pennsylvania Thanksgiving this year with the whole family, shortly followed by a Philadelphia Eagles football game in DC, and annual tradition that we opened up to extended family this year since so many wouldn’t be home for Christmas. We stayed in my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Alexandria, VA and it was a blast.

Family uniforms, from Papa Krouchick. (missing: Kevin!)

And now I am in Duluth, celebrating the Christmas season! It’s been a real blessing being here. I’ve only been once before a year and a half ago, but it was a quick two days with lots of packed events. This time we’re able to take it slow. And we’ve gotten in some good quality time with his mom, brother, and uncle as well as some close friends.

It’s crazy to think that those have been the big things. Kevin and I have experienced quite a bit of life in 2014. God is blessing us abundantly as we continue to find the rhythm of our day-to-day. There have been some trials, but we’re learning to trust the Lord in new ways. We’ve felt an outpouring of grace especially in these last couple of months as we try to look ahead to this next year. I have a feeling 2015 will be just as full of a year, but in a much different way. We will have many big life decisions to make and we pray God continues to be generous to us and that He will guide us to where he wants us. And we hope that we can continue to be generous in return; we truly have so much to be grateful for.

 

A Newlywed & NFP

In honor of NFP Awareness Week (which I didn’t realize was a thing until this week), I’d like to share a bit of my experience with Natural Family Planning. I just got married in May 2014, but I’ve been charting one method or another since April 2012.

For those who may not know, Natural Family Planning is a general term for various methods used to avoid or achieve pregnancy in cooperation with God’s plan sans artificial assistance. This is my informal Catholic definition, but I’ve heard of many non-Catholics using it as just a natural way to avoid or achieve pregnancy without putting all that extra hormonal blarb into your body. It’s beautiful for a number of reasons, the primary one for me being it works in harmony with truth. It is about being fully open to life, no matter your circumstance. It is about choosing life, even in those times you’re trying to avoid.

Kevin and I certainly don’t have to practice NFP – we could just leave it up to God, be intimate whenever we wanted, and see what happens. But given our personal circumstances right now and through prayer, we believe that it’s not the best time for us to have a child. Now if I somehow got pregnant, we’d be excited (gosh, Kevin would be ecstatic), but we’re doing our part to delay it at the moment. So in the spirit of this NFP Awareness Week, let me share a bit of both my personal joys and struggles with natural family planning.

🙂 It’s a team effort. My husband knows and [sort of] understands what’s going on with my body, and we actually develop a deeper level of intimacy through it. While we were engaged, I would text him my chart details at the end of each day, and he was responsible for the physical chart. Now that we’re married, it’s a bit more wonky since we’ve switched around so many times what NFP method we’re charting with, but it’s still a similar setup. He is aware of what is going on in my cycle, and how that affects me each day. A woman’s body is constantly changing throughout the month, so naturally a woman’s day-to-day can be so drastically different for no obvious reason. And it’s beyond helpful to have a husband who is aware and sensitive to what might be going on underneath the surface.

🙂 It requires sacrifice. I don’t know about you, but I for sure want my marriage to be made up of worthy sacrifices. It helps us demonstrate our love for one another, as well as our love for God. It unites us closer to each other and to Him. The sacrifices that NFP calls for help us to grow in prudence and temperance. And it builds up the respect that we have for one another.

🙂 It’s natural and healthy. This is an exciting one. I’ve been learning so much recently about my body, and I’ve been trying to incorporate natural things into all parts of my life (essential oils, attempted homegrown herbs, cooking from scratch, etc.). So of course it’s a joy that I’m able to have a healthy level of intimacy with my husband while not worrying about, or harming myself, with outside chemicals.

🙁 It can be confusing and frustrating when you aren’t the poster child for NFP. Even though I’ve been charting for over 2 full years, I still don’t have a “normal” chart. We’ve switched methods three times since getting engaged, trying to find what works best for us. It can be hard when an NFP teacher looks at your chart and tells you that if you’re trying to avoid pregnancy, there only looks to be 2 “go” days in that entire month. With my chart being somewhat difficult to interpret, it’s tough when we just don’t know if it’s an okay day. And it leads me to sometimes feel guilty; like there’s something wrong with me (physically or psychologically), or I’m doing it wrong, or I’m making a cross for our marriage.

🙂 The frustrations are purifying. In a way, I’m grateful for not having one’s “ideal” chart, or a regular cycle. It means that I just have to trust in God, which is ultimately what I’m trying to do in all parts of my life. Even with a perfect cycle, we all have to trust in the Lord and in His plans for us.

Kevin and I are still just in the newlywed phase – we have years of learning and growing to do. But I can say with confidence that I’m grateful NFP is a part of our marriage, and I hope we can grow in faith each day as we leave our fertility and our family in God’s hands.

Now for some great NFP related links for the week!

Women Speak on NFP

NFP Awareness Week Contest

Dear Newlywed, You’re Probably Worried About the Wrong Thing