Lately, in the fall

Linking up with Kelly & gang!

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  1. Kevin and I seem have a lot going on right now (who doesn’t?), but we’ve also had a really nice pace of life. September kind of came and went, leading right into the perfect autumn weather I crave all year round. Actually, it’s been pretty dang perfect for the past month, which makes me question why Minnesotans are often complaining of the weather (remind me of this in three months)!
  2. I am loving my new job and all that comes with it (prayers are appreciated for the success of this campus ministry!). But I’m also incredibly grateful that this new phase is allowing Kevin to spend more dedicated time on his art. He’s got some fun part-time work and is able to focus the rest of his time to his creative projects. I look at him work and gain profound respect for fine artists. He is integrating geometry, calculus, philosophy, history, drawing, and more all into one. I admire him like crazy. And am very excited to see what comes of all this!
  3. Our mornings have been SO nice. Maybe it’s because I actually enjoy the work I have to do in my day, but I have no problem getting up early and sticking to routine (most days). And our apartment! It is the first place we both feel totally at home since getting married. Every apartment has their drawbacks, but I think this one may be my favorite physical space I’ve ever lived in (apart from my home home). fullsizerender1
  4. We recently took a day trip to Wisconsin, which was…an adventure. We got up crazy early to drive along the Mississippi (Minnesota side) through some fun looking towns, eventually landing in LaCross, WI. I’ll admit, I get a wee little judgy of places because I’m so used to East Coast charm (colonial feels, all the brick, cobblestone streets, quaint facades), BUT I still enjoyed seeing the place. It was not our final destination, though, so we got some coffee and moved on. To Viroqua. Here’s where the real disappointment comes in. I read all about this area and the surrounding region – the reviews were wonderful and I was half-expecting Stars Hollow. It was the most boring place EVER. And instead of finding a world-class farmer’s market, we found an Amish horse race (literally, HUNDREDS of Amish men riding horses). Not to mention that at this point our phones received no reception, so we pretty much drove around with our atlas for five hours looking for an apple orchard. All in all, it was still a good day, and the fall weather did not disappoint me. We found an orchard (a huge difference apple picking in New England vs. midwest), and then made our way back to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe! That was a treat. And I cannot wait to go back there.fullsizerender-1
  5. I’m on a huge Joaquin Phoenix kick. Why, you ask? Well, Kevin was itching to watch Signs, and while I normally stay far away from anything remotely scary, I gave in BECAUSE the movie was filmed in my hometown. At the beginning of the film, it literally says “Bucks County, Pennsylvania…” It was filmed there AND takes place there (double win!). I also actually really, really enjoyed it! After that, Kevin got me to watch The Village (another M. Night movie with Joaquin). While the story has a lot of flaws and was a bit disappointing in the end, there were many redeeming features: the music (tearfully wonderful!), the love story (simple, yet so lovely!), the location (Pennsylvania…duh), and some really magnificent shots that I’ve re-watched over and over for their beauty. Then I proceeded to watch Gladiator (one of my favorite films of all time). I believe that was Joaquin’s first performance I had ever seen, and I remember thinking him the creepiest of men. I was also profoundly impressed with his acting range. So, it’s been a good week – now time to read a book or something.
  6. Kevin and I are godparents! This should be number one, not number six…but we are SO excited! And so grateful! A couple of our best friends had their second child, a beautiful little girl named Abigail,  on October 8th and we are overjoyed with the role we get to have in her life.
  7. We are going to Coldplay again! I was NOT expecting them to do another round of North American shows for the Head Full of Dreams Tour, but they are! And they’re coming to Minneapolis next August! So we got tickets. Much closer seats than when we went in Philly (which was still awesome), and a lot more expensive. But who can say how much longer they’ll decide to tour in the US?! We can’t miss this type of opportunity.

Alright, now gonna enjoy a relaxing weekend with some continuing lovely fall weather (it could go away any day now…).

P.S. – Kevin discovered he can draw on the iPad mini (no, we don’t have a stylus pen yet…just his hands). This is one of his many fun doodles that takes him no more than a few minutes. img_6451

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 🙂

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

 

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.

The things people don’t tell you about when you move to a new place.

A few days ago, I walked out into our sun room and noticed what looked like a ladybug. I had Kevin take it outdoors because I just don’t do insects. Call me a wimp x10, I don’t care. If I see a fly in the house, I cannot sleep until it is dead and removed. I’ve witnessed some pretty bad infestations in my day (mainly via my husband who had pretty poor luck in past apartments) so I like to take preventative measures.

Sunday was the first day we’ve really had this house to ourselves since moving here and were so excited to start decorating and making it like a home to the extent we could. It was a fairly warm day here, especially for October; the sun was shining and the temp was in the 70’s. Upon leaving Mass around 11:45am, I noticed a LOT of ladybugs…and by ladybugs, I mean “asian beetles” as I found out. They were surrounding the entrance and the cars and I instantly knew that this was not normal. We pulled into our driveway and oh.my.blog. The entire outside of the house was covered with SWARMS of these awful creatures!

We found a way inside and to our absolute dismay (because believe you me, we have had enough hoops to jump through since being here) they were all over the house. They were finding their way in through every. single. window. Instead of having the relaxing Sunday we had hoped for, we spent HOURS upon HOURS killing these evil things. And gosh, it was as if killing one made five more appear. It was awful. Hundreds and hundreds of asian beetles. In our house.

By about 5:30pm, we decided we needed to leave the house for our own sanity. We felt we had put a big enough dent in the infestation, but that the only way it would truly get better is if we thoroughly insulated the windows ourselves. So off to Home Depot we went. I don’t seem to have a history of good luck with the staff at Home Depot (at least back in Boston), and gosh…it was the same. We stood at self-checkout for 20+ minutes for a reason unbeknownst to us. But we got what we needed. Several hours later (after a date at Applebee’s because I had a gift card and needed a drink) we had insulated most of the windows, killed any remaining ones we could see, and went to bed.

Now you may be thinking “woah, what a crazy and random thing to happen!” I know I was. But no. We did a little research and it turns out that, in Minnesota, on the second warm day after a cold stint (typically in late September to early October), the Asian beetles appear all at once and try to find shelter for the winter – aka nice wooded homes. And they prefer if they are surrounded by trees. Lucky us – we just so happen to be surrounded by acres of trees.

As it was, these bugs were annoying everyone on Sunday, not just us, though I’m not quite sure everyone else had to take the same measures we did. And if nothing else, we learned that we will need to insulate this house better for winter.

While every region has their pros and cons for sure, it’s been a heck of an adjustment leaving the East Coast for this midwestern/great lake/north land landscape. For instance, people actually do carry bear maze on them when hiking (I thought it was a joke). And that every seven years there is an army worm invasion in the city for two weeks. And if you don’t get your firewood by September, you could be SOL.

Other than that, it’s a beautiful place. Really. 🙂

Carpe Diem.

It’s not every day you and your husband decide to drop your job (and primary source of income), leave the city you know, and take a leap of faith halfway across the country. Butttt that is where we are! We had been mulling over and discerning the possibility of moving to Minnesota for several months. Pennsylvania was an option, as was New Hampshire, but our hearts both seemed content (and thrilled) with Minnesota. However, it was St. Paul we were aiming for!

Things happened, job interviews were had, connections were made, someone (me) spent way too long lusting after cheaper real estate on zillow, we joyfully welcomed a pregnancy that altered some plans, but then that pregnancy went. And in those moments of loss and grief, we received peace and clarity. After Mass on July 3rd, we sat down outside the chapel and said it aloud: we should move to Duluth. I cling back to that moment, though, and trust that it was authentic and of God, because now as we get so close and I’ve given my work my notice, doubt inevitably clouds my vision! (Damn you, evil one!)

Yet even with the occasional doubt and fear, I know this is good. Even with the pain of leaving good friends and a home I love, I know God is calling us to greater things. Now…I’m not sure WHAT those things are, but I trust that they are GOOD. I am in no way tied to my “career path”, though it does lend a bit of security. So the prospect of potentially starting somewhere new and having more flexibility to “figure things out” was, and is, very attractive.

What will we do? Gosh, only the Lord knows. There is only so much we can do to prepare until we get there. Right now my head is filled with logistical nightmares of when to pack up my kitchen aid and how to sell all our furniture on Craigslist. I am re-evaluating a lot of things. I’ve always had my next move planned, and it’s always been on a certain trajectory. And while there was a time that I enjoyed what I do – that time has come and gone. While it will be tempting to apply to the classic HR jobs I’m used to, I really want to start fresh in something that gives me life.

I’d really love to do my own thing and work from home, if possible. I have a few ideas in my head and the wheels are spinning. Whatever I do is going to take some investment and patience. The frontrunners of the moment are:

  • Becoming a Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition (a one year program, fairly affordable) and partnering with organizations that teach and/or promote Natural Family Planning. I’d love to work with people struggling with infertility, looking at nutrition first before undergoing tests & treatments that can be quite pricey.
  • Starting my own at-home travel agency that specializes in Catholic Pilgrimages (and maybe adventurous honeymoons!). I can somewhat utilize that hospitality degree and my love for planning & travel! I’d work with a host agency such as TPI or Outside Agents. They provide all the training and tools you need to start earning commission right from home.
  • Selling Young Living Essential Oils. Some people make this their sole income and it works. I somehow doubt I’d be one of those people, but nothing wrong with trying and maybe snagging a little supplemental cash. The best part is it wouldn’t be forced. I absolutely love these oils. I believe in their healing properties, and if nothing else, I get to spread the word of more holistic health options.

I’ll continue to pray on this and look into more details over the next month or so, but I would love if, when we arrive in Duluth mid-September, I can start working towards one (or more) of these goals. Doing something I love would bring me greater joy, but it would all be in service of cultivating a beautiful domestic life with Kevin and to support him in his mission and work. So may God bless our efforts and may the opportunities be great!