Baby, Berries, Planning, Thoughts

third trimester update: berry #5

OVERALL: what started as smooth sailing became a wild ride by the end of this trimester. As covid-19 restrictions started loosening over the summer, we jumped at the chance to travel more before the postpartum slowdown. In the beginning of July (the start of my third trimester), I celebrated my birthday with a 17m bike ride on the Virginia Creeper Trail, and later that month, we daytripped down to Congaree National Park in Columbia SC. August took us north to Shenandoah National Park and west to the Bartos reunion in Fairfield Glade TN. In September, we joined my family at Holden Beach NC for a few days. By the time we got back from the beach, I was ready to stay home for the next six months or so! I like traveling but I started to feel like I didn’t have enough time at home to get ready for the baby. In between trips I got our birth supplies together, started acupuncture to turn our breech baby head down (it only took 1 session!), made a bunch of freezer meals with my sisters, and sorted through all of our baby girl clothes (what’s left of them, after the wear & tear from three previous girls).

Around 35 weeks I started having almost constant cramping and pressure, from how low baby berry was (that’s a good thing, but still uncomfortable). We had 2 pretty big scares with a round of intense contractions, one at Mammoth Cave National Park in KY (literally wandering in a giant cave wondering if we would have the baby in there), and the other at Holden Beach (thinking I was going to give birth in a Homeway rental house)! Both times everything ended up being fine, but we decided “wildberry” is a pretty accurate nickname for this little one who keeps proving to us that number 5 can still be surprising! Continue reading “third trimester update: berry #5”

Bartos family, Planning, State Park Project, Thoughts

out with the old, in with the new

The response to last year’s state park goal has been fantastic! Ever since our Charlotte Agenda article was published in December, I’ve been getting messages from other families excited to start their own “amazing adventure” challenge! I have a spreadsheet with the details of our 23 trips to 41 parks, plus our mileage and cost for each trip, which I’m happy to share with anyone who wants a copy.

This week Union County featured us in their January edition of “Telling Union County Stories!” We filmed an interview with Liz Cooper a few weeks ago and she put together a great story using footage and voiceover from that plus parts of Greg’s state park video.

Greg & I finally finished our NC state park guide: rankings of each park + suggestions for fun family activities. I really hope it’s a helpful tool for any families looking to get outdoors this year! Continue reading “out with the old, in with the new”

Greg & Morgan, Personal, Planning, Thoughts

2019 goals revisited

This week we reviewed our goals for 2019 to see how we did. We have a few categories for our annual goals and I keep track of them in an online spreadsheet. Our categories are travel, faith, children, and family (Gregory keeps track of his professional goals separately). Here’s a quick look at our list for last year:

  • get away for our anniversary / DONE March 2019
  • complete the NC Amazing Adventure challenge / DONE January-October, 2019
  • spend a weekend at the beach / DONE May 2019 and October 2019
  • go to the Hope of Israel Sisterhood Retreat (Morgan) / DONE May 2019
  • go to Canada for Megan McDonald’s bat mitzvah / DONE November 2019

  • become FFOZ Torah Club leaders / changed our minds about hosting Torah Club
  • have family prayer time before the kids go to bed / DONE
  • continue attendance at Bella Torah Fellowship / DONE
  • host a seder / DONE April 2019
  • have tefillin inspected / didn’t happen
  • get an oil menorah / didn’t happen
  • finish writing a children’s Torah portion guide (Gregory) / didn’t happen

  • move Eva into the girls’ room / DONE September 2019
  • teach Aaron Henry how to dress himself / DONE
  • start preschool with Aaron Henry / DONE September 2019
  • start first grade with Zoe / DONE September 2019
  • start second grade with Sophia / DONE September 2019

  • have a monthly date night / didn’t happen
  • set up our empty upstairs bonus room as a family space / DONE October 2019
  • renovate our laundry room / DONE March 2019
  • have a monthly gentlemen’s dinner (Gregory) / didn’t happen
  • get together with grandparents monthly / DONE
  • reach our annual savings goal / DONE
  • tile the upstairs bathroom floor / didn’t happen

Continue reading “2019 goals revisited”

Bartos family, National Park Project, Planning, travel

cuyahoga valley national park

With the state park challenge over, it seems that we need a new project. Should it be national parks? There are 61 official “national parks” in the United States (although there is a movement in the park community to disregard the 61st park, established by President Obama, as it is entirely man made). This number doesn’t include everything managed by the National Park Service (national monuments, national forests, national scenic byways, etc), which is over 400 locations. Continue reading “cuyahoga valley national park”

Bartos family, faith, Planning, Thoughts

an attempt at tzom kal

This Sunday ends the “three sad weeks” between tzom Tammuz and tisha b’Av. Have to say I’m ready to get back to normal life! This particular area of Judaism spans a wide range, both in Jewish and Messianic practice, ranging from no observance to a list of limitations that grow increasingly strict as the ninth of Av approaches. Personally I think it’s kind of a choose-your-own-adventure. For us, we’ve developed a structure for our family that limits our enjoyment (shopping, partying, traveling, swimming, and movies, for example) during this time in order to join with Israel in mourning over Zion and praying for the swift return of Messiah.

Continue reading “an attempt at tzom kal”

Bartos family, Berries, Planning

passports for kids: a quick & easy guide

We submitted passport applications for all four of our children this week. Our next adventure is on the horizon: we came up with the idea to “reward” the kids for their amazing work on our state park goal with a trip to Canada! Our first international trip will be to attend a little friend’s bat mitzvah in Ontario this November. It’s a surprise for the berries, so don’t tell them! I’m hoping we can pack up and leave in the morning as if it’s a normal park trip, but then we keep going… all day… (ha)

The passport process can be a little overwhelming, not to mention costly. We learned a few things along the way, which I’ll outline here as a resource for other families. Continue reading “passports for kids: a quick & easy guide”

Bartos family, Planning, travel

if you had one day in the outer banks…

Here’s our “Bartos Family Travel Guide” for the Kitty Hawk/Roanoke Island area:


Go on a Wild Horse Adventure tour! We had a fantastic experience with this company. The cost is completely worth it (and we saved $$$ by booking the first tour of the day, 7.30am). They use a customized Hummer H1, with wide comfortable seats, including boosters for kids. Eva and Aaron Henry used their own car seats for the tour. It’s a little bumpy going over tire tracks on the sand but we felt safe! The Spanish mustangs are beautiful wild horses and it’s amazing to see them out on the beach.  Continue reading “if you had one day in the outer banks…”

Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Planning

no place like home

We bought a house today. {!!!}

After a few months of searching, we found an adorable little house in the heart of Indian Trail {Union County} and made an offer on it. The negotiations concluded this morning as we signed the deed, becoming homeowners for the first time! We are thrilled at how perfectly this worked out – our apartment lease is up in a few weeks, and we are ready to transition our family into a new home. Baruch HaShem for His direction and provision every step of the way!
Time to start packing…


Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Planning, Squicciarini family

paddle boarding date


Recently I’ve heard some attachment-parenters {I’m not one, but I have a few good friends who are} talk about the incredible bond they have with their babies, from co-sleeping, baby-wearing, and demand-feeding… and I want to note, for the record, that I have a pretty terrific bond with my own little girl! Sophia has never slept in my bed, and I don’t wear her in a sling all day long, but she’s absolutely a mommy’s girl. We LOVE to spend time together! She is just getting to the point of being affectionate, starting to give little hugs and nibbles that could pass for kisses. There are moments when I want to pick her up the second she starts fussing, or rock her to sleep every night, but in the end I have to do what I think is best for her. So far we can’t complain about the results! She’s a happy baby, one that rarely cries, sings to us all the time, and always has a grin for strangers. I think the big tests of our parenting will come in the next few years though.

Week at a glance:

:: whisked Greg away for a birthday trip to the whitewater center  / the longest we’ve ever left Sophia {my super babysitters watched her for over 5 hours!} felt like we were newlyweds again

:: RSVP’d for a hugely important wedding on October 25

:: hosted a Bible study in my home {doing the book of Matthew from a Hebraic perspective with some wonderful ladies}

:: made wild blueberry & pecan granola with Mary

:: spent a typically productive evening with my mom: catching up, eating dinner, fixing the washing machine, & making baby food!

:: tested out a few veggie purees with Sophia: she’s a big fan of banana but doesn’t care for peas {yet!}

:: looked at more houses {we have some great possibilities!} and actually met with our realtor on Friday

:: had a spontaneous family pizza date! + a visit to the brand-new Whole Foods

:: continued planning Julianna’s bridal shower {!!!}

:: met Christine at the renovated Stallings Park for walking + berry smoothies

:: had a pleasantly impromptu visit from Julianna in the middle of Shabbat preparations {the usual exchange: she brought me ginger-infused artisan muesli & trifle ingredients; I gave her an empty tupperware & a borrowed cookbook}

:: yet to come: hosting a new couple for dinner {Lori + Taylor} and then a quiet Shabbat by ourselves


Baby, Greg & Morgan, Married Life, Planning, Thoughts

preparing for baby: STILL waiting

Still pregnant.

Alternating between wild elation {ANY DAY NOW!!!} and depressed frustration {WHY is it taking so long to have this baby?!} on a day to day basis. Maintaining a stable emotional level is not as easy as one might think at 41 weeks of pregnancy. Even though, really, I know this little berry will come at just the right time, the uncertainty is still tough! Especially when we have to start talking about options for how to proceed next week. 41 weeks + 5 days is the unofficial birth center cut off.

Waiting is actually incredibly helpful: I’m so ridiculously excited about meeting this baby girl that I’ll be thrilled when labor starts, instead of nervously anticipating the pain ahead.

Greg used the expression “single parents” to refer to us recently, as in “This could be the last party we go to as single parents!” which I thought was hilarious, since we’re married… and it ended up being hard to describe our current state! Childless parents doesn’t work, because we kind of have a child, and a married couple is close, but technically we’ll always be a married couple… so we gave up and decided it doesn’t really matter anyway.

Ready for a quiet day tomorrow, savoring peaceful moments with my husband.


I shall thank Adonai wholeheartedly, for I have completed nine months of pregnancy, and Adonai has thus far helped me and rescued me from evil mishaps that can strike a pregnant woman and her fetus. O Beneficent One, Whose compassions are never exhausted, I therefore beseech You for mercy that You sustain and support me when Raspberry comes to be born, and grant me strength when I give birth to her. Please Adonai! Sustain me that I may be saved, preserve me from sorrows, such that the baby emerge from me for peace, life, and relief. May there not be in her nor in any of her limbs any damage or deficit – neither mishap nor happenstance, neither illness nor affliction, neither pangs nor pain, neither plague nor sickness. Prepare milk in my breasts to nurse her, and grant me the favor of raising her for Your service and Your reverence. 

Adonai, hear my voice when I call, be gracious to me and answer me. Hear, Adonai, and favor me; Adonai, be my Helper! May the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer.

-Artscroll Ohel Sarah Women’s Siddur, p. 1005, my adaption